The neighbours of Farland Way, Hazelbank in the City of Derry have been getting together for The Big Lunch every year since 2011 thanks to the efforts of Habinteg Housing Community Assistant Margaret Cunningham who has themed the event each year.
Margaret said: ‘The Big Lunch is an idea from the Eden Project supported by the National Lottery, when I first heard of it, I thought this could be a great thing to bring to the street and that’s what we did.’
Derry people are very friendly and we love to dress up, you only have to visit here at Halloween to see that! So, every year our Big Lunch has had a theme including mad hatter, American barn dance, and last year we thought let’s think globally but act locally and we held a day of diverse cultural fun and learning. This year we thought ‘could we go further and bring organisations here to the street and go totally waste free?’ – so that’s what we did!
‘There is great interest over what we can do to help the planet, and I think that it has to start locally. Often we hear things coming from the top and it’s not relatable but if you take it down to the nitty gritty of what we can do ourselves, we can put it into practice and involve our children.’
In the run up to the Big Lunch, Margaret contacted people she met through her work and involvement in the Eden Project Communities network. She facilitated a ‘Seed to Plate’ programme and children grew vegetables and herbs from seed to eat at their Big Lunch.
Keeping with the theme, online invites were issued instead of paper ones and lots of organisations chipped in to help. Keep NI Beautiful supplied materials for volunteers to keep the Farland Way area tidy over the next few years. Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Environmental team shared knowledge and provided free compost. Ruth O’Callaghan from the UseLess Shop on Society Street brought a stall, knowledge and eco bricks for the children planting out, and Carmel Mulrine from Zero Wasssste North West was a great help too.
The day included upcycling demos, making things from plastic bags, cardboard ends and household waste, ‘give and take’ clothes swap, neighbours were given good tips for being environmentally friendly on a budget and local Pink Ladies advised on the chemicals in products. We all learnt something and made some new friends too!