1 Year old
Can hardly believe that Let's Go Lentil has been trading for 1 year today!
Why did it all begin?
I get asked this all the time! Which is pretty understandable as it seems like a completely random thing to do, especially when the other work I do/did was in care/support work and seemingly completely unrelated. Long story short (anyone that knows me knows that I can never seem to shorten a long story so probably a lie there..) but basically after having worked in Canada for a year on various farms etc and meeting all sorts of interesting people and loving the whole grow your own veg thing, looking at how live a bit more sustainably (whatever that means) and I guess trying to keep things simple (definitely not managed this yet!) and yeah I guess just working outside and all that kind of thing, well I just loved it. When we came home I wanted to continue this so started growing food at home, helping out a local farms, doing a permaculture course, getting involved with MOO Food (check them out if you've not heard of them) all that kind of jazz.
So yeah originally I wanted to start my own veg market garden, then quickly realised that any land we have available to us probably isn't ideal for a market garden as such. Then I guess I watched a few documentaries around the time that plastic was becoming a headliner and thought 'oh my god this is crazy, we seem to be destroying the place.' Had a scout on the internet and saw that there are plastic free shops popping up all over the world and we don't have one yet. Had been eating very well in Canada due to the farms we were staying at, which were so remote most of them that I couldn't just pop down and get a diet coke from the shops.. shock horror as I was addicted to diet coke at the time. So it was very much a kind of a make your own bread, eat your own veg, live within your means kind of lifestyle where nothing went to waste. So.. wanted to try and continue this (I go off the rails alllll of the time since I'm home although I did cure my diet coke addiction) and so eating well and affordably meant eating things like lentils, oats, rice, quinoa etc and yeah there just wasn't anywhere to buy this plastic free up here. I also wanted to support the local markets and other food businesses by adding another reason to shop at markets, there isn't one business that can create a market on their own and every business helps to create the local food network that we have here (or anywhere).
So I contacted Emma Whitam who had set up the Food Assembly at the time in Dingwall (now the Dingwall Academy Market) check it out if you haven't yet www.dingwallacademymarket.co.uk and she said great idea and just do it! From there I got involved with the Transition Black isle markets and so that's where it all started.
Good parts and not so good parts?
For me Let's Go Lentil has become more about promoting affordable healthy eating as well as the plastic free thing. Plastic free won't save the world but I guess we can only do our small parts in what way we can and yeah it's really nice to give people the option to shop without the plastic if they want to. I love speaking to customers and sharing recipe ideas and generally it's just nice to be part of the local food thing, for me this is the most important thing. And even although I'm pretty far from becoming business woman of the year it's kind of nice to think you've created something and get involved with all the people who give advice and help and ideas along the way, that has been more than worth all the effort. Learning lots as I go.
More challenging parts
... the boring parts.. with everything it seems there are rules and regulations or spreadsheets to be filled in etc.. not a big fan of that. And the heavy lifting.. even with eating all those chickpeas this can be a challenge and unfortunately due to the nature of of what I sell - there will always be heavy lifting involved.
Well after quite some time of trying, I finally manged to convince my good friend Cat (pictured here) to come on board with me and we are going to be creating some food from Let's Go Lentil stock! So excited about this, we have done houmous trials (still working on this) and energy balls and we are working on getting some ready to eat snacks/meals to sell at the markets also. She is an amazing cook and (thank god) is a complete spreadsheet wonder woman. I have no idea what she's doing on the computer but it looks good to me. We will be doing this as waste free as possible (deposit on packaging type scenarios).
Weirdly enough we actually came up with the idea of selling food together (on a double decker bus) about 15 years ago.. seems we take a while to get going eh!
From here.. well we are just going to see what happens but we have lots of ideas on where things could go. There is always the possibility of a shop/zerowaste cafe burning away in the background and it would be amazing to be able to offer this as something we have up in this area as it still isn't available yet. The enthusiasm from people in our local area is definitely there, you can see this from the unbelievable success of the Moo(n) market, which is a zerowaste market run by Lynsey Burns in Muir of Ord - it was packed! A shop obviously takes quite a bit of money, the right location and a lot of work behind the scenes to get this kind of thing up and running. So.. who knows what's next but we shall see!