Event Report: Ragged University on #food, #Manchester, #climate change and, yes, marijuana

Two excellent presentations about economics and trees, food and the future, by Judith Emanuel and Jules Bagnoli at a Northern Quarter pub this evening were highly entertaining…

Ragged University is “an attempt to think about and explain ideas in an open dialogue on how effective positive social change can be brought about…whilst having fun and meeting people…”  They’ve been going for three years, and holding events at the rather lovely Castle Hotel on Oldham St for a little while.

Tonight there were two speakers – Judith Emanuel from “Steady State Manchester” looking at what the work of Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maatthai might have to teach Mancunians and then Jules Bagnoli, looking at “Manchester’s Food De-industrialisation.”

Refreshingly the two speakers worked together at the outset to find out a little more about the forty or so people in the room. Who grows any of their own food, they asked – many hands went up. Where are people from (mostly, it seems, South Manchester). Who’d heard of Wangari Maatthai? A few hands…

Judith spoke about the Steady State Manchester project (see disclaimer!), showed a short and very inspirational film about her work.

After a short break, Jules Bagnoli took over, with a powerpoint presentation which we hope to be able to embed in this post soon.

She explained how she had been the founder of two restaurants, and had gotten interested in ‘authentic’ English food. After researching medieval and Georgian menus, she had tried to source local foods, only to find that many ingredients she wanted to use had to be imported from France and Belgium.

From what I jotted down –

  • In 1940 Manchester was 80% self-sufficient in food. And in 2010. 0.25%
  • “Efficient farming” is extremely insufficient – (all the hidden costs around destruction of biodiversity, water usage, fuel costs in transport and fertilizer).
  • Local authorities have sold off hugely fertile areas in Greater Manchester, for shopping malls and housing developments.
  • In 1789 you could get 8 apple varieties in Salford markets, 27 kinds of pears (e.g. the idea that the current set -up allows us more choice is illusory.

She gave a shout out to the following groups

Nano Food Network
Unicorn Grocery
Kindling Trust
Biospheric Foundation
Cracking Good Food
Moss Cider
Black Cat Cakery
Forest Foods

She also, semi-tongue in cheek, pointed out that there is a LOT of marijuana being grown indoors these days, by people who now have quite advanced geeky skills around watering and lighting crops indoors.

All in all, both speakers were informative, engaging and well-worth hearing. After a break (we were meeting in a pub, after all), there was a group discussion about what lessons could be brought down to a Manchester level…

The events are free, and the food tonight was scrummy. The next event is on Thursday May 2nd and they are looking for volunteers to help make things happen.

Marc Hudson

Disclaimer: The MCFly co-editors are friends of Judith Emanuel’s, and are, with her, also members of the Steady State Manchester collective.

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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2 Responses to Event Report: Ragged University on #food, #Manchester, #climate change and, yes, marijuana

  1. Gille Liath says:

    80% self-sufficient as recently as 1940, that’s very interesting. My grandad would have been working on a farm on Chat Moss at that time. It isn’t only, or perhaps even mainly, council land being sold off that’s the problem: a lot of land there is just not being worked now, or is just paddocks for horses or alternative uses like lawn turf or bloody golf courses. Presumably that’s because the traditional market gardening and arable farming is not economic, though in some cases you suspect land is deliberately being allowed to fall into neglect in the hope it could be sold off for housing.

  2. Gille Liath says:

    On choice, though – 27 varieties of pear, okay, but could you get an ugly fruit? 🙂

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