MEET THE FOOD GATHERER
In Christine Smallwood 's final interview of her series, ahead of The Enfield Food Festival this weekend, she meets Emma Lundie, founder of The Food Gatherer .
Talk to people in the Enfield food community and chances are they’ll mention Emma Lundie. Working as The Food Gatherer, she’s the co-founder of the Enfield Food Festival and has been banging the borough’s drum since 2012.
That was when Emma moved from urban Islington, with “lots of different foods on my doorstep” to Enfield where she made it her mission to discover her new neighbourhood through the food people. “I had the opportunity to do that here, because there are still small independent shopkeepers.”
It could be said to be a European way of doing things. Funny that, because her gastronomic work started on the Italian island of Sardinia where she’d enjoyed a family holiday:
“it’s exactly what I like: unpretentiously sharing great food in a relaxed way, I just absolutely loved it, and wanted to bring a little bit of that here.“
She’s not the first person to have a great time abroad and dream about importing the local food specialities back home. But Emma actually made it happen. There were many practical hurdles and infuriating bureaucracy but having started her career as a human rights researcher, she’s not easily deterred.
It didn’t take long for her to see that suburban Enfield is a great place for food with, “access to small-scale agriculture and pick-your-own farms plus the benefits of being on the outskirts of London with its incredible diversity.” And even more exciting is that,
“it feels very authentic to me. There's producers here who are just doing their thing. They’re not trying to be the latest hipster place, they’re just people who are making food they love.”
And many of us love her eye-catching earring collection. “You always need a bit of glamour, no matter what you’re doing” she laughs. “You might be down at the farm and it might be muddy, but there always has to be a little bit of glamour!”.
Don’t be mislead, she’s the first to roll up her sleeves and get stuck into sorting out the grunt jobs. Whether it’s moving hay bales for an event at Forty Hall Farm or carting boxes of flyers around local shops, she’s a hard-working collaborator.
What’s next in the world of the Food Gatherer? Her favourite part is “bringing people together to share their locally made food and I want to make people feel a little bit proud of what we’ve got here.” Emma would therefore like to create more dining opportunities, and there’s the imminent establishment of a food forum to provide support to local businesses.
So what advice would she give to anyone thinking of setting up a food business?
“Do something that you believe in, that you really feel strongly about. Be authentic, be yourself and the rest will follow.”
Sounds like a description of The Food Gatherer.
Tomorrow we’ll hear about Emma’s most memorable meal, and yes, it was on a sunny Italian island.