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Issue 7

Spring 2012

true food news Hot on the heels of our very successful Big Party we have what promises to be a super day out coming up at our AGM. Great location, great company and great food — a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. What could be better? Most of us usually only meet a tiny number of the people who support TFC in one capacity or another. So it’s good to have an opportunity to come together, share ideas, have fun and possibly spawn all manner of new dreams and exciting projects. We’re delighted to welcome Russell Stevenson to our team as our junior reporter. He is keen to research any relevant topics of interest to our membership, so please let us know if you have any ideas for him to follow up by emailing me at Happy reading!

Editor Tess Swiestowska Copywriter Kathryn McCann Junior reporter Russell Stevenson Proofreader


Alice Murphy

AGM AT SHEEPDROVE ORGANIC FARM Generous support from Sheepdrove Organic Farm has enabled the True Food committee to arrange our forthcoming AGM to mix business with pleasure. The formalities will take place in the morning of 30 June, at Sheepdrove Eco Conference Centre in Lambourn, Berkshire. After enjoying a delicious organic lunch we’ll then have the opportunity to explore the 2,250 acre farm. Two tractor-trailer tours have been arranged, with places for 56. The rest of us can enjoy a leisurely self-guided tour of the farm. The schedule for the day is:

Tea and coffee: 10am-10.30am AGM: 10.30am-1pm Lunch: 1pm-2pm Farm tours: 2pm-4.30pm We’re subsidising lunch, making the prices incredibly reasonable — £5 for members and 5-16s (under 5s eat free) and £7.50 for adult non-members. Please buy your lunch tickets before 4pm on 16 June from the shop or markets, indicating whether you would like the meat, vegetarian or vegan option. The staff or helpers will also be able to tell you about travel for the day. Although they won’t be able to vote at the AGM, non-members are very welcome to attend the whole day. So it should be a wonderful day out for all our members and customers.

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Voluntary editorial team

Big Party brings True Foodies together by Helen Warren What a night! Didn’t we have a great bash? I’m no statistician but I reckon our Big Party on Saturday 11 February was the biggest gathering of True Foodies ever. RISC has long been a great friend and ally of True Food and we were welcomed back warmly and supportively by all its staff and volunteers — a very fitting venue for our celebrations. We were very lucky to be entertained by members and their friends from Red Hat Salsa and Dolly and the Clothespegs. A real indication of the calibre of our membership! Thanks again Sharon, Ed and Sarah. The highlight of the night for me was definitely the food. Expectations were naturally high, but my goodness, the food was SUPERB! And it just kept coming. It really got me thinking about that True Food café we keep talking about. The key reason for the party, as well as to celebrate our BBC Award win and our 7th birthday, was to give True Food supporters the chance to get together socially as a community. The turnout was fantastic and I was blown away by the amazing sense of energy and enthusiasm on the night. It’s this that has got us where we are today, and long may it continue!

We own it, we run it, we love it!

True Food on film Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, has recently made a short film about True Food Co-op as part of their Food Co-ops project. The Sustain team visited the True Food shop and Queens Road market back in January to do the filming and interview staff and helpers. “The film was made as part of a wider project to capture the growing community food movement,” explains communications co-ordinator, Anna Batchelor. “The key focus was the way we organise ourselves to go to market, including the movable roll cage shelving units, and several of us were filmed at the shop and market.” Sustain hope the Food Co-ops project will increase awareness of food co-operatives and encourage other people to get together to set one up themselves. See for more details. You can watch the film about True Food at

Anna being interviewed for the film at the True Food shop

Tel: 0118 946 1188

STAFF PROFILE — Alex Trott, shop manager “True Food aims to help as many people as possible eat affordably, locally and organically, re-engaging consumers with the source of their food as well as lessening its environmental footprint. All issues close to my heart. “I started my journey into True Food while at the University of Reading. I was studying Rural Resource Management and found my real interest and passion in the farming and food modules. “I decided to write my final year dissertation on the sustainability of local food systems. At the time one of the lecturers was advising TFC on their application for the lottery grant and he introduced me to the team. “As part of my research I conducted a survey of True Food customers, reusing a questionnaire they’d used previously, with additional questions about local food. The results showed that True Food had developed considerably but that there was room for expansion of their local food range.

“My dissertation findings were incorporated into a piece published in the British Food Journal — ‘Local Food: understanding customer motivations in innovative retail formats’.

Alex at work at the shop in Emmer Green

“When the opportunity to work for True Food as the manager of the new shop came up I applied and got the position. My first task was to project manage the

HELP US FIND NEW VENUES A major aspect of our three-year loan stock project is to find communities in Greater Reading that would welcome weekly True Food markets. Markets manager, Chris Aldridge, explains more. We have two free weekday evenings — Monday and Tuesday — that we’d like to fill with successful and vibrant True Food markets. West Reading is currently without a nearby market and we’re hopeful that local people there will be able to help us find a great market location. So what exactly are we looking for?

Community champions Initially we’re seeking people from a local community who are keen to help bring sustainable foods to their neighbours. We hope these community champions will help us search for a suitable venue, publicise what True Food has to offer and attract helpers to make a new market a reality. Ideal

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champions include people involved in local schools, childcare groups, community or environmental groups or places of worship.

Venues To be suitable a venue should be on or visible from a busy thoroughfare. An indoor venue with a medium or large hall or community space is ideal. It should be available from mid-afternoon to late evening on Mondays or Tuesdays. Finally it needs to have convenient parking for customers along with access for our lorry to unload and load the market goods. We’re keen to offer our local produce and healthy, sustainable foods to more households across Reading. Can you help? If so, please email me at

refurbishment of the new premises, co-ordinating tradesmen and volunteers to get the work done on time and to budget, which it was. “Since the shop opened, sales have increased steadily, with word of mouth gradually spreading. We’re now becoming established within the Emmer Green community, getting involved in local events, like the Queen’s Jubilee party this June. We’ve also developed good relationships with local suppliers and source as much of our produce from them as possible, helping the local economy. “Our efforts were rewarded last November when we won the prestigious BBC Food and Farming Award for Best Retail Initiative. “Even with all the publicity, we still need to increase sales to reach a safe and strong financial position. We also need to increase our Active Membership help, to free up staff time to make your co-operative even better in the future! “If you’re interested in getting involved, email Beth Scott at”

The accidental helper Phil Chatfield, True Food member and regular at the shop in Emmer Green, describes how he started as a helper. “I have been a member of True Food Co-op for some time but, as I work full time and travel a lot, I’ve never been able to make a regular commitment to help out. “When I went in to do our weekly shop on Easter Saturday, I found Chris and Jo both serving, a queue of customers waiting to pay and the phone ringing! I thought that if I’d known how to operate the till, I could have helped out. “So I asked Chris about training, then went in the following week when I had a day off work to learn how to use the till and scanner. It took about 30 minutes to work through the options and a couple of customers were kind enough to allow me to practise on them. “The next time I was in everyone was busy preparing for the next market and I was able to step in to help out on the till. “I’m glad to have found a way I can contribute that works with my busy schedule and True Food’s!”

We own it, we run it, we love it!

Tel: 0118 946 1188

Eggzactly what we were looking for

Introducing our junior reporter…

by Helen Wright

From the outside just a little shop on Grove Road in Emmer Green, with people going in and coming out. But from the inside, one of my favourite places to be. The True Food shop is special not just because it specialises in organics but for many other reasons. I love it there. I’ve had so many laughs and great conversations with staff, volunteers and customers. There is no tension like in a bigger shop full of strangers. I like the fact it’s run by the community. I loved the Big Party — lots of people came and there was so much lovely food. Events like this are important to bring the community together and get to know more about True Food. I think helping at True Food is a good opportunity to learn but also have fun at the same time. It’s good that all ages can be involved. I personally like preparing the market stacks and serving customers. I also stack spoons for the dishwasher and even Digby, who is three, helps with that. All in all True Food is a great place to spend time and to shop.

At True Food we buy and sell over 1,000 eggs a week. Of course we want them to be free range and organic too, and it is hard to find local suppliers to meet this level of demand.

Until a few months ago we were buying our eggs through wholesalers and they were coming from Yorkshire or even Scotland. Then in November we met Adrian Dolby at the Food & Farming Awards — a finalist in the Farmer of the Year category. One of the first things he said to us was, “Are you interested in organic eggs?” We now get a regular weekly supply of eggs from Barrington Park Estate, where Adrian is farm manager. The farm is in the Cotswolds, near Burford, Oxfordshire. About 50 miles from the Emmer Green shop, while not quite on our doorstep, it’s much more local than our old supply of eggs.

Barrington Park Estate is a mixed organic farm which uses a rotation system, including cereals and grazing for sheep and cattle. The Lohman Brown hens who lay the eggs are an important part of the system, and their manure is used as fertilizer for the cereal crops. We buy the eggs in trays of mixed sizes, which offers good value. It also means you can reuse your old egg boxes, minimising waste, and pick the size and number of eggs you want.

True Food member scoops ‘most ethical cake’ prize True Food member and helper, Mary Tindall, won a prize for making the most ethical cake at the Choc-A-Lot cake competition, which kicked off Fair Trade Fortnight at RISC on 2 March. Mary’s sumptuous chocolate, beetroot and pumpkin cake contained more than 20 fair trade, organic or locally sourced ingredients. Many came from True Food and some from the RISC roof garden where she also volunteers. Mary has kindly shared her winning recipe with us so you can try recreating her cake at home…

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Russell Stevenson, age 11

Drovers Hill Farm apple juices by Joanna MacDouall When Nicola and Mark first bought Drovers Hill Farm it was just two bare fields high in the Chilterns. When I visited them a couple of months ago I found a thriving mixed farm with beautifully built barns and an apple store. There was also a lambing shed, complete with the first two lambs of the year, born just hours before I arrived. In just a few years they have transformed the place, buying an extra piece of land to the north which has become their apple orchard. It’s designated a site of special scientific interest and Nicola and Mark are working hard to restore it to its original state. Most of the apples produced are pressed into juice and we’re very pleased to be selling their Autumn Blend at the shop and markets. We also stock their Golden Hare and Orchard Hare blends at the shop. In case you’re wondering, there are lots of hares at the farm! Local, organic and very reasonably priced, these apple juices really are delicious. As an added bonus, you can return the empty bottles to us and we’ll send them back to the farm, in the original boxes, to be sterilised and reused next year. If you shop at one of the markets and would like to try Golden Hare or Orchard Hare, please email me at or call me on 0118 946 1188 before 2pm on the day of the market and we’ll bring it along for you. Chocolate, beetroot & pumpkin cake



1) Beat oil, eggs and sugar together. 2) Mix in molasses, grated squash and beetroot. 3) Sieve flour, salt, cocoa, chilli and baking powder. 4) Mix into the wet ingredients, a third at a time. 5) Pour into greased and lined 20cm cake tin. 6) Bake at gas mark 4/350F/175°C for around an hour. 7) When the cake is cold, slice in half and spread generously with jam. 8) For the filling, dissolve sugar and cocoa in 125ml water and boil for 3-5 minutes till a little of the mixture placed on the back of 2 teaspoons and pressed together, forms a thread when pulled apart. 9) Beat a little at a time into the egg yolk. 10) Add melted chocolate and hazelnuts. 11) Beat in margarine a little at a time. 12) Spread chocolate mix over the jam and sandwich the cake together. 13) Cover the top with melted chocolate and sprinkle with slices of dried squash, beetroot and raspberries.

CAKE ● 200ml rapeseed oil ● 160gm self-raising flour ● 175g unrefined muscovado sugar ● I tbsp pure blackstrap molasses ● 55g cocoa powder ● 3 free range eggs ● 125g grated beetroot ● 125g grated butternut squash ● ½ tsp salt ● 1 tsp baking powder ● ½ tsp finely chopped dried red chilli

JAM ● 150g raspberries ● 150g loganberries

● 1 tsp grated ginger root ● 50g raw cane sugar

FILLING ● 50g raw cane sugar ● 25g 73% cocoa chocolate ● 1 tsp cocoa ● 10g finely chopped roasted hazelnuts ● 1 free range egg yolk ● 150g sunflower margarine

DECORATION ● 100g 73% cocoa chocolate ● Dried beetroot ● Dried pumpkin ● Dried raspberries

We own it, we run it, we love it!

Tel: 0118 946 1188

SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT Sebastian van Rooij of Waltham Place Farm Waltham Place Farm, in White Waltham near Maidenhead, is one of our regular local suppliers. The farm runs on biodynamic principles. Sebastian, who has worked there for the past year, explains a bit about what this means as well as sharing his fascinating personal story. “The biodynamic approach means working in tune with nature, for example by taking account of the planetary positions when planting. It also means working in a closed system so that everything needed is produced yourself. At Waltham Place we don’t buy in any fertilisers — we maintain fertility by using crop rotation, composting and manure.

Sebastian with girlfriend Rozsa Lokodi on a recent visit to our Earley market

“Mixed farms with crops and animals are an important aspect of biodynamic farming, and cows are essential because they produce the best manure. We look on the manure as the main product from our cows — beef is a by-product.

“Before joining Waltham Place I did a four year biodynamic agriculture course in Holland that covered theory and practical skills. However I really grew up with the philosophy. “I was brought up in a Camphill Community in East Sussex where my parents lived and worked. Inspired by the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, who developed biodynamics, these communities create a space where mentally challenged people can reach their full potential. “My dad was a gardener when I was little and I would follow him everywhere. I have fond memories of eating two or three whole cucumbers straight out of the wheelbarrow when they were still warm from the sun. A cold cucumber has less flavour I think. “In that environment, organically and biodynamically grown food and homeopathic medicines were the norm. I didn’t know there was anything else! When I was 17 and thinking what my purpose would be my dad asked me what kind of agriculture I liked. He almost had to explain the conventional, chemical alternative to me — it had never really occurred to me that there was another way. “Of course I didn’t want to unnecessarily damage our environment, so I was keen to learn more about the approach I had grown up with. Again, following my roots, I went to study in Holland where my dad grew up. “At this time of year we’ve just planted about 800kg of seed potatoes of various varieties and have been working hard on weeding. The next job is to get the ground ready for next year’s cabbages.”

Look out for Waltham Place Farm produce at the True Food markets and shop.

Have you thought about joining? If you’re a regular customer at True Food Co-op, have you thought about joining our 400 plus members? You may have heard about the £20 worth of discount vouchers you get when you join, and they are worth having, but the non-financial benefits are perhaps even more important. The main thing is that when you join, £1 of your £10 membership fee buys a share in the company. Imagine how differently you might feel when you come into the shop or market knowing that it’s your business. Of course you’ll get all the benefits of being part of a lively community of people interested in good food. Plus you’ll be invited to attend members-only meetings and get discounted entry to events like February’s Big Party. Members receive a weekly email with details of special offers, new products and other news. The email always lists the help we need running the shop or market and with other events and tasks. There’s no obligation to help if you don’t have time, however getting involved is a great way of getting to know other people and can be fun. And if you help out for just three hours during each four week period you’ll qualify for £30 more discount vouchers for that period, plus additional special offers just for Active Members. All membership is due for renewal each January but you can join (or rejoin if you’ve let your membership lapse) at any time of the year. It’s well worth thinking about if you haven’t already!

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We own it, we run it, we love it!

Winning active ageing shot Professional photographer and True Food Active Member, Adela Nistora, recently won first place in the Open category of a national photography competition with a photo of a fellow True Food helper. The focus of the Left To Our Own Devices photo competition was older people’s experiences with technology. It was run by KT-EQUAL, which researches extending quality life for older and disabled people, in partnership with AgeUK. Adela won with her photo of our oldest Active Member, 79-year-old John Hammond, learning to use the new point of sale system at the shop.

Adela’s winning photo of John in action

Adela explains: “Every year for the past few years I've been doing photos on the theme of the European Year — it challenges me to go out and look for stories that can inspire people. 2012 is the European Year for Active Ageing. When I heard about the Left To Our Own Devices competition I was inspired to channel the theme towards technology. “I don't personally know any older people, so I asked friends and acquaintances if they knew someone who would be happy to be photographed. Chris mentioned John and it seemed like a good idea since it would promote not just active ageing, but also volunteering and True Food. “Wouldn’t it be lovely if this photo of John inspires more older people to become Active Members?” Well done, Adela! You can read more about the competition at

Market and shop opening times Wesley Methodist Hall, Queens Road Wednesday — 5pm-8.15pm Wycliffe Church Hall, Kings Road, Newtown (entrance on Kings Road) Thursday — 5pm-8.15pm Silverdale Centre, Silverdale Road, Earley Friday — 5pm-8.15pm TFC Shop, Grove Road, Emmer Green Monday — 8.30am-8pm Tuesday — 8.30am-5.30pm Wednesday — 8.30am-5.30pm Thursday — 8.30am-5.30pm Friday — 8.30am-5.30pm Saturday — 10am-4pm

Tel: 0118 946 1188

True Food News - Issue 7  
True Food News - Issue 7  

Spring 2012 issue of True Food Co-op's newsletter