ESS announces partnership with Incredible Edible

ESS, the Defence, Energy and Government Services sector of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has announced a partnership with Incredible Edible – a network of 6,000+ volunteers who grow healthy food for their communities on disused plots of land in over 150 locations across the UK and globally.

ESS will work with Incredible Edible to accelerate the growth of its grass roots movement which brings people together to celebrate great, locally-grown produce and its importance in engaging younger generations, supporting local economies and tackling climate change. This aligns with Compass Group UK & Ireland’s commitment to reach Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions across its own operations and its value chain (GHG protocol Scope 1/2/3) by 2030.

The two organisations will collaborate on a variety of projects to promote the power of small, scalable actions to initiate change.

ESS has supported the publication of Incredible Edible’s new book ‘Seeds to Solutions’. The hardback, full-colour text is a gardening book, a cookbook and a celebration of everything that is being achieved by Incredible Edible. It describes the journey so far with tips, recipes and stories from Incredible Edible groups across the world, and how this is informing future work in ESS and Compass Group UK & Ireland. ESS will be selling the title in retail stores across its estate.

ESS has been introducing community gardens on its estate since the beginning of 2021, working with its clients to transform available land into areas cultivated for growing ingredients. The first project is at Brompton Barracks in Chatham, home to the Royal School of Military Engineering, where the team has built an allotment which is now providing a variety of fruit, vegetables and herbs for use in menus.

As well as introducing the concept of hyper-local sourcing, planters across the site encourage people to relax and socialise around the food being produced. Royal Engineers Association veterans look after the gardens and have provided great feedback on the mental health benefits associated with being part of the project.

Working in partnership with Incredible Edible, ESS will extend the model across its estate. The areas will be known as Incredible Edible gardens and it is hoped they will encourage more people to understand where their food comes from and get involved in growing it themselves.

ESS will draw on the culinary expertise within its own business, and that of the wider Compass team, to deliver workshops to Incredible Edible groups across the UK. The sessions will showcase the great produce being grown and how it can be used to create exciting dishes that are seasonal, local and full of flavour.

The chefs will provide tips for increasing the consumption of plant-based foods to deliver a range of health and environmental benefits. The workshops will be filmed and made available to a wider audience to engage as many people as possible in eating their landscapes!

Pam Warhurst CBE, Chair and Founder of Incredible Edible, commented: “We’ve heard the call from the streets of Glasgow and around the world. People want action not words. They want to be part of the solution to how we live within planetary limits, not the victims. Incredible Edible speaks to that call for change and our book celebrates the many actions that demonstrate the ‘just do it’ approach of our groups.

That ESS and Compass are sharing that change journey with us and actively supporting the power of small actions speaks volumes about their courage and ambition to be Net Zero across their UK & Ireland organisation by 2030.

Together we can make a difference to how we live and do business, each playing to their strengths and demonstrating a kinder, healthier prosperity.”

Mark Webster, Managing Director – ESS Defence, Energy and Government Services, commented, “This is the beginning of an extremely exciting journey for ESS.

'We’re delighted to support Seeds to Solutions which will continue spreading the word about Incredible Edible. We have a fantastic opportunity to accelerate the organisation’s ambition to engage communities in growing their own food and the wider benefits this brings for local economies and the environment.

'The gardens we’ve introduced on our estate so far have been met with great enthusiasm by our colleagues, customers and clients. We’ve seen an increased interest in the provenance of our ingredients, as well as reported mood-boosting effects of working on the sites. We can’t wait to extend the model across more of our estate and we have a lot to learn from Incredible Edible along the way!”

Carolyn Ball, Director for Delivery of Net Zero – Compass Group UK & Ireland, commented, “The Incredible Edible groups are not just growing food. Their existence recognises that climate change has a human face and together they inspire everyday actions we can all support.

'In many ways Incredible Edible is a masterclass in how food can unite communities through small changes that can be scaled.

'It’s also about economics; calling for a transformation in the value of food so we have a system fit to serve the future – and all those who will inherit it.”