The Case for an Otley Community Larder
by Shannon Coles
Otley 2030 have committed to use the principles of ‘Doughnut Economics’ to guide our
work. This means that whilst working towards a climate friendly future we work also
towards a fair and just world where needs are met.
Today 7.7 million children under five are facing starvation in the Sahel because of climate
change induced drought, and that pattern is being replicated across East Africa. In India
extreme heat events are bringing death. Their future, all our futures, depend on our success in radically reducing the emission of greenhouse gases now.
We are lucky in Otley, we are probably not in danger of starvation, but there are many
people who are struggling to make ends meet, and many more people who are frightened
about what next winter will bring.
An estimated one third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste. Between 6 and
8% of all greenhouse gases are produced by this food waste. Putting this into
perspective,1.3 gigatons of edible food wasted releases 3.3 gigatons equivalent of carbon
dioxide (CO2), meaning that for every 1kg of food waste, just over 2.5kg of CO2 is emitted.
Food waste also generates methane, a Greenhouse Gas 25 times more potent than
Setting up and running a community larder would help Otley to tackle both local food
waste and local food poverty, whilst at the same time reducing emissions. There are
models all over the country: we need to design one that would work for us in Otley. The
core Otley 2030 group are already fully stretched, we can only commit to this project if we
can be sure it is is sustainable. We need volunteers who can help us to design the project
and to commit to make time to manage and staff it every week.
Where we are so far:
We think we will need a collection and distribution point on the South of the River, where
all the cafes and shops selling fresh food (and some struggling households) are located,
and also a distribution point on the North of the river. We have already made tentative
approaches to the Otley Social Club and met with an encouraging response, but all decisions will need to go through their membership board. Space on the South side of the river is at a premium, but by involving a very wide section of the community in the planning we are hoping that a suitable location can be found.
We recognise that there are all kinds of legal and hygiene issues around food handling,
with strict criteria that we will have to meet. We think that it should be fairly easy to find
guidance and support to meet these criteria because the community larder movement is
growing across the country. We have already been in contact with the community larder
run by LS14 in Seacroft, and two of us have visited the Community Fridge in Selby.
We already have a very robust and sustainable food bank in operation in Otley, which
supplies store cupboard basics to an increasing number of households. Our community
larder will be focused only on redirecting locally produced food which will otherwise be
We are committed to showing solidarity with people who are struggling: we appreciate that
any one of us, at any time, could find ourselves in want, and that the social safety net is
becoming increasingly tattered. We believe that the circular economy on which a carbon zero future depends demands the repurposing of unconsumed food, and that even if there was nobody in want in Otley a scheme such as this should be in operation.
We would love to think that it could develop, maybe into ‘pay if you can’ community meals,
so that we could ameliorate the loneliness crisis as well as food poverty and food waste
Please join us on 7th June at Shadow Brewery and on zoom if you would like to offer
support to this scheme in any way. Otley 2030 will be having our general meeting for
working groups between 7.30 and 8pm, please feel free to join us for that, alternatively
arrive at 8pm as the Community Larder will be the only agenda item for the last hour.
Please let us know if you plan to attend by emailing email@example.com.
If you are reading this after 7th June and would like to get involved, please still get in touch via the above email address.