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Southend local prepares to launch new venture and encourages more people to take action in their community

29 Oct Southend local prepares to launch new venture and encourages more people to take action in their community

A foraging teacher from Essex is planning to preserve community spirit in her local area and support those struggling with rising food prices as she launches Kraut Club, an eco-friendly project making the most of surplus produce. Tilly Hogrebe, who lives in Southend on Sea, hopes to bring people from all cultures together to share skills, produce food for local groups and reduce food waste in the process. After attending a Community Camp run by the Eden Project last month which spurred her into action, Tilly is now encouraging more people to start making a difference where they live by coming along to the charity’s Community Camp, taking place online this autumn and early next year.

Research undertaken by Eden Project Communities earlier this year revealed that almost a third (32%) of adults in the UK want to find ways to connect with their community to help local people through the rising cost of living, while 36 million people believe the UK would not be able to function without the generosity of people giving away food in programmes such as food banks, community fridges and food share schemes.

With so many keen to do more, whether that’s by supporting those struggling with the cost of living, encouraging people to live more sustainably, or helping local green spaces to bloom, the Eden Project’s Community Camp (taking place online this November and January), made possible by The National Lottery, aims to equip people with the skills and knowledge they need to put their dreams into action.

Tilly’s innovative idea for a community project stemmed from her involvement in a local community garden, where she developed a passion for using communal growing spaces as a place to socialise with others. Green-fingered Tilly left her office job in 2021 to pursue her dream of teaching people to forage and make the best possible use out of their newly sourced produce. Keen to ensure her courses are accessible to all, she now runs workshops on a sliding payment scale, allowing people of all incomes to participate.

Tilly said: “I recently spent a weekend at the magical Eden Project in Cornwall, taking part at Eden Community Camp. I arrived at Camp with an idea. I knew it was a good one, but I really wasn’t sure if I could actually pull it off! After many talks and workshops covering everything from imposter syndrome to writing better funding applications, and lots of time spent connecting with likeminded people, talking about Kraut Club and listening to other participants talking passionately about their projects, I know I can, and I will.”
Next on Tilly’s bucket list is launching Kraut Club, which will see local people invited to come together to learn to preserve surplus produce from their gardens or allotments, along with foraged goods and produce from food sharing platforms. With soaring living costs a concern for many, Kraut Club will create long-lasting and nutritious ingredients to be shared with the community at local food banks, soup kitchens and community groups, with the project also reducing food waste locally, encouraging skill sharing from different cultural backgrounds and fostering stronger communities.

Tilly continued, “Many people nowadays are disconnected and don’t look at the world beyond their own immediate concerns. In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that we connect with others in our community and learn about their ideas, values, and struggles. I strongly believe that projects such as Kraut Club will help knit tighter communities and enable residents to feel agency over their neighbourhoods.”

“I look forward to launching in-person Kraut Club meetings in the New Year. If you have an interest in community action, food poverty, reducing food waste, or if you just like to pickle things, and would like to get involved at the planning stage, I would love to hear from you!”
Community Camp’s jam-packed, fully-funded programme offers a mix of practical activities, workshop sessions and networking opportunities. Attendees will have the chance to learn about relevant subjects such as leadership, funding and storytelling, and will also be equipped with practical steps to help them get started, and spend some time connecting with other local people making a difference in their region.
Applications for November and January’s Community Camp are open, with people at any stage in their community journeys invited to apply for the fully funded programme. Taking place online in the form of weekly, specially-tailored sessions, the programme is ideal for anyone keen to access support and learning opportunities that fit around their lifestyles.

Tracey Robbins, Head of UK Delivery at Eden Project Communities, said: “Tilly is one of the many people across the country who is turning their idea for their communities into real action, and is now making life that little bit brighter for local residents. Although times are hard at the moment, we know there are so many more of us out there who want to make a positive difference where we live, but aren’t sure how to get started.
“That’s why we’d love to see anyone with a bright idea they’d like to explore at Community Camp, whether it’s about improving a local green space, living more sustainably or supporting people struggling with the cost of living. Our camps are always full of laughter, connection and stories, with everyone finishing the course with a confidence boost, practical ways of bringing their initiatives to life, and many new friends!”