Alumni Spotlight: Edible Ellie!

25th March 2013 by

In the second edition of our ‘ alumni spotlight’ we’re shining our energy saving light-bulbed lamp on Tastetastic cycle tour member Ellie who has done some pretty incredible things since her tour last year- read on and be inspired!

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1. What tour did you go on?

I went on the Tastetastic tour of the Scottish Borders in August 2012. It was a three week tour with no upper age limit, which is why I chose it, because (at 29) I was too old for the other tours!

2. What were your tour highs and lows?

The highs of the tour were probably the friendships made with the other tour members and meeting such amazing, creative and inspiring people. Group living can be quite intense at first but the bonds formed are so true and tight that you feel that you can conquer anything together.

The low, for me was a long awaited day off, staying at a venue with particularly basic facilities (just imagine a tap in a small woods surrounded by muddy fields and cows). It rained all day and none of us could muster the courage to venture across the huge field of mud towards civilisation. Thankfully the day was saved by my solution focused Otesha buddies and together we erected a communal shelter for us to huddle under and play games.

3. Briefly, what have you been up to since the tour?

Since the tour I have been keeping busy with writing a blog about my journey into sustainable living and setting up an organic food co-op. I have done lots of little things that I wouldn’t have done before such as joining the heritage seed library, talking to a fair trade coffee grower, joining amnesty international and opening an ethical bank account. The other main activity which has been keeping me occupied is applying to become a foster carer. This should be interesting given that we have no television and don’t shop in supermarkets. I’m sure the blog will be taking on a new angle when that starts. Most of all I am looking forward to teaching the Otesha message to our foster children for years to come.

4. Tell us a bit more the food coop and your blog

Ellie food face

My blog is www.lifeaftertesco.co.uk. It mostly covers the food aspects of sustainable living and documents momentous occasions such as my first veg box delivery. I know I’m not a great blogger but quite a few people have contacted me to say that they have tried new things after being inspired by the blog.

At the start of the blog I was researching organic food wholesalers, which, If I’m honest, was just for myself, but I soon realised that I couldn’t afford the minimum order of £325 and even if I could I didn’t have room to store it. This is when the idea of starting a food co-op became a goal. It took a while (I took a gap month to learn how to knit) but with the help of some of my friends we managed to decide how the co-op would work and how to make it socially inclusive, by omitting a membership fee and having the food delivered at a community venue. I am proud to say that we had our first delivery in February and have been enjoying some really top quality food, which we couldn’t afford to buy in the shops.

5. What impact has the Otesha tour had on you?

The Otesha Tour really changed the way I think about my personal actions. I would say that I was fairly disempowered when I came to the tour. Having spent most of my adult life working as a carer and then working in betting shops I used to think that the green movement was limited to middle class people. Even though I was interested in the issues I thought it was a group I could never join. “I would love to do more for my fellow man and the planet but I can only just afford to look after myself thank you”… I used to think. About half way through training week I realised that the only barrier to living more ethically was my own way of thinking. I stopped putting my energy into supporting unsustainable systems and started to think of ways I could make an impact where it mattered.beachgroup1

Since the tour, family members have said that the changes I am making are futile in the face of things, which is what I used to think so I try not to take it to heart. I believe that we can never know the true reach and impact of our actions, but the most obvious impact my actions have had is on the way I feel. More connected to nature, more meaning to my daily actions, more time spent in the present moment, more involved in my community.

6. Are you still involved with Otesha and how?

I am a proud member of the Otesha alumni and this group provides me with loads of information and networking opportunities. Unfortunately because I live so far away from London I feel that I have missed out on some amazing Otesha opportunities and get togethers, however I have met up with tour members since the tour and continue to stay in touch with Otesha-ites wherever they may be.Ellie and trailer negotiating stream - credit Emily Connor

7. What advice would you give to new tour members?

Ellie’s top tips to tour members would be:

· don’t take any white clothing with you whatsoever,

· don’t bother with “waterproof” shoe covers but do take waterproof socks

· Avon skin-so-soft not only repels the Scottish midge but also can be used to start a damp fire

· take lots of photos- it is a magical experience you will want to remember

· make time to play games

· take every opportunity you can to have a wash

· and most of all -keep going!- the universe has a funny way of providing you with exactly what you need at the right time and never gives you a challenge you can’t handle.

8. Describe your Otesha experience in 3 words, a picture or action:

Life. Affirming. Experience.

T South handstand at sunset - credit Emily Connor

One Response to “Alumni Spotlight: Edible Ellie!”

  1. Anna Hughes says:

    Hi Ellie, I sometimes worry that the stuff I do is futile in the face of things, but then I remember that if I didn’t do this stuff I would worry that I wasn’t doing enough! Living sustainably makes me satisfied on a personal level – and it has the added bonus of being good for everything else too. You’re right, you can’t know the reach and impact of your actions, but it might be more than you think – my sister has recently stopped shopping at Tesco because she knew how much I hated it. not because I ever told her not to. I feel so happy!! I hope your family members come round to your way of thinking eventually, and if not, perhaps they’ll begin to rethink things just by virtue of you doing it.
    Well done with the food co-op – look forward to hearing more from you in the future :)
    Anna (Otesha Western Quester)


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