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Community cooking club brings people together to share food and skills

When The Old Library closed for refurbishment, Beth Woolley, community champion and intoBodmin’s hospitality lead, knew there was no way to keep the Cafe running. But would that stop

her cooking and working with the community? Not a chance!

Beth started the community cooking club when the Old Library closed for refurbishment

Instead, she started a Community Cooking Club in various venues around the town. The pilot has been a huge success and intoBodmin is seeking funding and volunteers to continue the creative project.

Beth was determined to have some kind of community food offer available during the renovation work and so the Community Cooking Club was launched. Using surplus food from local organisations such as Gleaning Cornwall enabled the funding to go further and fitted in perfectly with Beth’s other big project as lead for Plastic Free Bodmin and being kind to the environment.

Beth said: “The idea of the club was to bring the community together through food, saving money and sharing skills. Food donated at each session was created into a fabulous meal. For example, cottage pie was made when meat and sweet potatoes were part of the produce available that week; when Bodmin Way’s Community Larder had aubergines that were left over and were donated to the club, attendees made inventive vegetarian and vegan dishes.”

The club is open to everybody, whether expert chef or tentative novice. It introduces people to raw ingredients and shows them how to cook creatively with them. Each session gives Beth the chance to show what can be done with a handful of random food items.

Beth said: ”It’s not just about food, it is also a great way to connect with others in the community, have a fun few hours and feel the achievement of creating a delicious meal.”

Themes and Stories

During harvest season, several preserving sessions were run, including exploring ways to make vinegars, chutneys, jams, kimchi and sauerkraut. During ‘Apple Week’ the preserving process was explored, and apple vinegar, chutney and dehydrated apples were produced. Luckily, Beth had the foresight to put a call out for jars with lids before the pilot started. Donations of jars and produce were received from the community.

ASDA Bodmin Community Champion gave a kind donation of items to get the preserving underway.

Nature’s seasonal glut at harvest time led to colourful produce that didn’t go to waste at the cooking club.

With a variety of cultures and ages attending the club, there was a diverse range of meals produced, including Ukrainian dishes, curry and Peruvian inspired meals as well as everyday dishes.

Beth and Revd Elaine worked together in St Petroc’s Parish Centre

Venues and attendees

Beth has been running cooking clubs from intoBodmin’s Shop 14 on Fore Street, St. Petroc’s Parish Centre on Priory Road and at the Doing Club in the Kinsman Hub. Around a dozen people attended the weekly session over several months.

Next steps

It would be great to see the Community Cooking Club collaborate with Revd Elaine Munday’s Friday

Community Space. A wider network is planned, to forge connections with groups working for the good of the community. Joined up thinking, with community minded projects working together rather than in isolation, is Beth’s vision. “We are stronger together.” she said.

Beth and Revd Elaine are hoping to visit other community food projects around Cornwall. The idea is to share processes and practices in order to develop a sustainable food club offering in Bodmin.

Beth has now returned to IntoBodmin’s café at The Old Library. The cafe is extending its hours and

will be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. If you are interested in being involved or would like more information, please contact Beth at


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