Creating a pay as you feel cafe

I finally have some updates for this section of the blog! I am excited to share the journey I have been on over the last two weeks with you! It has been crazy and beautiful. It is just the start.

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Sometimes you feel something in your bones, you see it unfold in your head, you know that it’s waiting to happen.

It gives me goose bumps to know how we can change things together.

It means a great deal to me to take some autonomy in times of feeling powerless, and to share that with others, to create a sense of belonging in this together, is crucial.

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I often blog about what Im learning with permaculture,  permaculture systems build a resilience to much of the way we live our lives in the modern world, and to the fact that we might feel powerless about it.

Permaculture systems are simple and effective ways to reduce waste and effects of the waste, and to meet our needs, they are ways to live positively to reduce our negative effects as human beings.

Permaculture creates alternatives, and lets us feel good about doing so. It can also help us to connect with themes of environmental justice, and social justice, by addressing our needs -with us at the centre, starting with us.

 We can be empowered to build resilence, and new ways forward to a better more connected life.


Food is one of our fundamental needs as human beings, before farming and agriculture we were hunter gatherers, it is easier to see our natural place and positive effect on the environment in this context. As the population grew we turned to farming to feed ourselves, land became a commodity and we began to have a negative effect upon it, and ourselves.

In modern life food is industrialised and some of the players from this industry have become incredibly powerful but exempt from responsibility.

For example ‘Walmart has become the second largest public corporation, according to Fortune Global 500, as well as one of the largest private employers in the world. Along with Walmart’s great successes and capital gain, there has been much controversy surrounding this retail giant in 2013.

The most notable of these controversies was an employee food drive that went public, which further sparked debate of whether the company was paying their employees enough to financially survive and afford to buy food for their families.  Regardless of that, Walmart’s low prices continue to attract customers from a variety of incomes and backgrounds – so much so that, despite the fact they don’t even retail internationally, Walmart has recently been valued at $228 billion.’ (this is an extract from here

A corporation has a legal responsibility to make money, and they persue that with unlimited consequences. Some of these consequences from the food indutry are obvious and seen in the effect on our health, the rise in diabetes and obesity etc.

Some are hidden in trade agreements which are kept quiet to prevent public outrage -you may remember the TTIP where initially all open-pollinated seeds would have been effectively banned, even for home gardeners.

Some are trade which exploits weaker economies/poorer workers and impacts environments beyond our own. Some are environmental consequences, from agriculture -soil erosion an depletion of nutrients, to deforestation and extinction of animals in the pusuit of palm oil.

Environmental damage from flying new zealand lamb from the other side of the world when we have plenty here. Flying apples to be polished in another country and then flown back.

There’s food production, and waste. Waste from food packaging -the marketing of food, many of which still cannot be recycled and food waste. A third of the food we waste goes into landfill..

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Food is a basic need and a shared human experience.

We want and need to come together to create and enjoy meals.

It is the most fundamental part of our human nature.

Sharing food is spiritual within all of our religions and cultures.

Yet we are becoming so disconnected from it, from our basic needs, from each other. The effect of that along with those consequences briefly mentioned above (and many more) in our towns and cities are felt all around us.

We have an abundance, all we could hope for, yet we are literally killing our planet in the pursuit of more.

We are needlessly hungry and unhealthy. Physically and spiritually.

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We have to change for our very survival but this is an opputunity, a chance to address all that makes us feel isolated, unhealthy and not enough, and turn it around. It is time to start the changes.

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For me this means becoming more connected to myself, and others.

An awareness of food followed by permaculture helped me to become empowered enough to make small changes and to feel good in the face of all that opresses us. For me this change began with food, growing food in my garden and thinking deeply about how to use food to bring people together, to connect us, to share and pool our efforts, and to counter some of this damage and waste.

I attended community events and projects and out of that is evolving a little group of ‘doers’ sharing the same philosophy. Helping themselves to feel good by helping others feel good. It works.


Pay As You Feel promotes equality and humanity

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I started a little dinner club event where we cooked meals for each other and attempted to source waste in the community, we used what we’d grown and excess, we came together to share our ideas and thoughts. We all had the ambition of creating a PAYF cafe and felt this would counter many of the consequences of modern life and fill a need for our community in Doncaster. For me this meant starting where I was, with what I have access to already.

I registered a food business from home and felt that we could in the least do something from my home or take that out in a mobile capacity in the spring if enough progress was made but I needed to be a part of something, I didnt want to be doing it alone.

I have extremely limited resources so renting a van or a premises was out of the question. I had also learned from watching others that this is a trap, it would be no good falling into a situation of spending and needing to recoup or of starting out with costs to cover before being able to meet any of our aims. It’s not sustainable

It seemed that an existing business allowing us to use their premises or acting as a host was going to be the best way forward, if you can get them to agree.. I also became aware of the real junk food project through twitter and a friend who hosted one of our dinner club meetings. Around December they put something out to help start/coordinate a network and I became aware of their progress through the publicity, I dont watch tv but noticed a lot of media interest in the food revolution -as I call it, through the tweets and the fb pages. I sent off for more information and began to feel more confident reading on the website about the cafes, and the different ways they had started. I was particularly keen to keep it as grass roots as possible so that we would have a real foundation, support and a real motivation.

I asked in my local cafe would they be intrerested in hosting such an event and the reaction took me by surprise.. “yes, this week, or next?” hahaa! well strike while the irons hot and make the most of it, because otherwise it seemed, from different experiences in the past, that things can change quickly and you will miss an opportunity.

I made a fb event  for the evening at Little Mo’s snap shack in Scawsby, Doncaster, and, as confidence grew, a page for ‘The Real Junk Food Project Doncaster’ and it began to unfold.



I came across ‘Food aware CIC’ whilst searching for numbers for shelters that would take excess food should we have any, and gave them a ring,  it seemed an ideal connection and they very helpful, offering immediately to sponsor our first event.

Food aware intercept food that would be waste and take it to the people who need it in local areas, they run some of our local food banks.

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We worked togther as team creating a menu from what we had and setting tasks to work through the jobs and get things done.


It was a fun experience and it felt good that we were all in it together, none of us having done this before.

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We saved 93kgs of food from landfill

Turning waste into energy the most efficient way;  by feeding people hot nutritous meals


We fed 25 bellies rather than bins!  Met some amazing people and had a brilliant time!

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The event was a great success and we are planning on more, at least a once monthly event, and I have sneaky feeling it will grow more than that.


unserved meals were packaged and taken to M25 housing and support services

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We have our community payf cafe, no costs, no budget, just people ‘doing it’ and Im still pinching myself! Now we need to get officially organised and we are still in great need of suppliers/sponsors and volunteers to help in expanding range of roles and tasks in a great setting with a brilliant atmosphere.

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We need you! Doncaster needs us! Get involved!

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Pay As You Feel promotes equality and humanity and you all, with little guidance, proved how this can be achieved if we all pull together as one. Food is one of the most powerful tools in bringing people together, yet we waste millions of tons of it every year worldwide. It’s no coincidence we have such a broken society when we’re so disassociated with our food. Small projects all over the country like this one is having huge environmental, social and even financial impacts. Extremely proud of all of you! “Let’s REALLY feed the world” -Adam Smith Founder of The Real Junk Food Project.

facebook : The Real Junk Food Project Doncaster


tweet: @fee0na

instagram: elysian daisies


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