Greenhouse Pioneer: Katie Roche, The Food Assembly

Food Assembly

A digital twist on the traditional farmers market, The Food Assembly is helping communities across the UK to shop online and come together to buy the best local food available. The initiative helps boost the local economy and reduce food miles and food waste at the same time.

The idea started in France (known as La Ruche Qui Dit Oui “the hive that says yes”) where it has grown rapidly since 2011. Greenhouse caught up with Katie Roche, UK Communications Manager for The Food Assembly.

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about The Food Assembly – what’s your mission?
The Food Assembly is an award-winning tech platform that enables people to start local food communities.

What motivates you?
Knowing that what I am working towards is making a huge impact on the lives of others. On a deeper level, it’s actually about making a difference of even those people yet to come – our next generation.

What is your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement at The Food Assembly is perseverance – the ‘growing up’ pains aren’t easy. I look at smaller milestones to manage success – building a partnership or securing a piece of media coverage. We’re achieving every day: my greatest achievement will be everything we’re building on now, which is growing our network throughout the UK.

What are the challenges you face?
Building a network that can help us fix our food chain while also trying to educate others about appreciating the true value of food. We’re getting there, one Food Assembly at a time!

What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?
I am super excited for Food Tech Week in October. We’ll be joining some panels for it. We’ve also an exciting collaboration with Jamie Oliver’s Food Foundation so watch this space. I’ve been very excited with our recently launched videos, it’s amazing how diversifying your content can make your brand come alive.

Where do you want to take your initiative next?
Quite a simple answer – to have a Food Assembly in every community in the UK!

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?
Educate yourself on the food chain and think before you buy.

If you were Prime Minister/President for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
Firstly, I would ring Jamie Oliver and tell him to come pronto, call all the media to Downing Street, and would announce we are now imposing the sugar tax. Then I would also impose a tax for big supermarkets. It wouldn’t be a great day for them.

I would end that day at my local Food Assembly, of course, which Sky News would cover as main story. Then I would wake up and think: did that all really happen?

Food Assembly

What’s the coolest project or product you’ve come across, and inspired you?
I really admire OLIO – the mobile app that aims to reduce food waste by sharing unwanted food items with your neighbours. They’ve been a pleasure to work with in the food tech space – very inspiring folk.

Can you recommend a life-or game-changing book for our readers?
The Green Marketing Manifesto by John Grant. Also, I love Scientific Advertising by Claude C Hopkins – although written in 1923, it never grows old!

What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?
Jazz FM, BBC Radio 6, or Spotify Discovery which I’m pretty obsessed with.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it! (Thanks Dad)

Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?
Mark Boyle, an Irishman who I interviewed for The Sunday Times a few years ago. After finding the successful Freeconomy Community, he lived in Devon without money for 2.5 years, living off the land. He moved back to West Ireland, and invited me to stay at his eco-home where he taught me how to build with cob. A painstakingly slow task which he did for months and months and build a house with it. He inspired me to think big and that anything is possible.

Want to find out about more eco-heroes? Head over to our pioneer page.

The Food Assembly is one of Greenhouse’s newest clients, we are proud to work with them to support local, fresh and sustainable produce. To discover more about what they do read a recent article about the local food revolution.