City Harvest London feels like one big family. But some are actually related. Husband and wife team, Tay and Mike Motl, are together making a big difference getting more food donors on board so that we can feed thousands more people in South London. Tay, in her own words reports on an inspirational morning spent with the very generous market traders at New Covent Garden Market. New Covent Garden market is the largest wholesale fruit, vegetable, and flower market in the United Kingdom. Located in Nine Elms, the market is on a huge site and has over 200 companies selling fresh produce.
The market is bustling, with vans coming in and out, fork lifts buzzing up and down, music playing and a general sense of energy and productivity. Most of the people there have been working all night and by the time we get there it is nearing the end of their working shift.
At 5am Mike and I turn up in the City Harvest van ready to start visiting all the different companies that kindly donate food on a weekly basis to be given to charity. They don’t have to do this, but they take time out to care and pass on to us food to be delivered to charities in and around London who feed hundreds of hungry people every day.
The food they give us is good, wholesome, quality fruit and veg, that will nourish the lives of all the people it gets delivered to, people who for one reason or another find themselves needing some assistance.
It’s a win/win situation for everybody- the companies have less waste to throw away, their customers like to engage with companies who are conscientious, the planet benefits from less waste going in to landfill, the farmers and growers time and energy is respected, and food is given to people who need it. What’s not to love?
Our first stop is to Bevington’s where we meet George. Mike usually starts with Bevington’s, they have always been firm supporters of City Harvest and their upbeat welcome is a great way to start us off on our trip round the market. Usually George’s dad Gary, head of the Market Traders Association and a great City Harvest advocate, would be there. This morning, George greets us with a big smile and loads us up with trays of tomatoes and melons.
Our next stop is to Scott at ‘The Mushroom Man’ who reliably supplies us with trays of plump mushrooms. Their shop has a wonderful earthy pungent smell, I’ve never seen such variety of mushrooms before, these guys provide fungi for London’s restaurants and businesses.
We next visit a lovely guy called James at Medina, he comes down to greet us and starts loading up a trolley with milk, bread, orange juice and bottles of water. You can see he’s busy but he takes time out of his busy day to donate food to us.
Over the next two hours we do a loop of the market, visiting our regular donors, Spencer from Gilgrove Limited who gives us lettuce and onions, Steven at London Fresh Ltd gives us bags of shallots and oranges and broccoli and peas comes from Rotterdam Orange BV. We get a shout from Newman’s who have some cherries for us and Terry from The French Garden waves us over to give us trays of mushrooms.
We pop into a tiny little café called Nellie’s for a refuel which is bustling hub, keeping everyone fed through the night. A tasty breakfast and cuppa down and we’re back on our journey.
H G Walker Ltd is next up, Michael brings out an array of amazing food including oranges, apricots, plums, grapes, lettuces and boxes of bramleys. I feel excited to be able to deliver all this amazing food to the charities we will be visiting in the coming hours.
Our last stop before we leave is to Simon at Side Salads. He collects trays of peppers and different types of lettuces for us. I A Harris are great and give us potatoes and bananas and we visit a new donor, M and G who kindly contacted us recently to say they want to start donating and collected grapes.
It’s astonishing and heart warming to see this abundance of donated food and I feel proud of my fellow Londoners for taking time to care. I know what an impact this wholesome fruit and veg will have on the people who receive it and that makes me smile. The next step is to get it out and delivered so people can get cooking! Thank you everyone at New Covent Garden Market, you are making a big difference and it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
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