Total Eclipse of the Chard - Veg, Music and Community at Lee Greens

29th June 2020

Thursday mornings are a busy time for the volunteer and lead packers at our Leegate base as we ready hundreds of bags of organic veg for an afternoon pick-up. They’re also enjoyable ones. Since joining Lee Greens in late March shortly after lockdown, it’s been personally rewarding both to participate in a community activity but also to have a social experience.

To pack we form a kind of assembly line down which the bags are passed, starting at root veg and usually ending in bags of salad, spinach or chard. It’s a novel environment, allowing for spontaneous and free flowing chat. Surrounded as we are by organic veg, it might not be surprising to learn that food chats feature but the radio also provides an important background accompaniment. I think this combination of food and music helps cultivate opportunities for connection because there are surely few more powerful shared experiences.

We talk about dishes we’ve cooked and get inspired about recipes to try in the week ahead. Other times a new item in the bags evokes a strong food memory, transporting us back to a happy time. A few weeks ago the aroma of lemons prompted Sasha to declare that she needed proper French crêpes with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon, there and then! Sometimes you note a sense of triumph as a packer hits a correct weigh on the scales in one go. A simple but surprising pleasure, trust me. Occasionally, a curiously-shaped vegetable crops up to spark predictable amusement.  

The music has been a less expected but wonderful way to create commonality and build team spirit. After some experimentation with stations, we’ve found that feel-good disco, soul and pop numbers from the 80s and 90s are most conducive to creating the right ambience. They keep up spirits, help maintain a packing rhythm and add a nostalgic, happy vibe to the packing floor. We talk tunes. And when a sure-fire winner gets played, you might just see a packer breaking out into a little groove, vegetable in hand!

Members of the team have selected their favourite tunes to pack to.

Packers' Picks

  • Vanessa: My packing pick is Aretha Franklin’s Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)
  • Michael: My first choice would be Do It Anyway You Wanna by People’s Choice or failing that Funking for Jamaica by Tom Browne or Disco Stomp by Hamilton Bohannon. All remind me of being young and free.
  • Pip: It needs to be something uplifting and with a good beat to help motivate - Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds or David Bowie’s Fame.
  • Sasha: Together in Electric Dreams by Phil Oakey and Giorgio Moroder is pretty good and tends to come on the radio a lot!
  • Kieran: Patrice Rushen - Let’s Sing a Song of Love. And for a bit of variety, School by Fourtet and Feel The Sunshine by Alex Reece.  

As this article title suggests, we love a good vegetable pun at Lee Greens. Can you do better than Total Eclipse of the Chard? What about Beet it (Michael Jackson's Beat it). We'd love to hear from you...

Photo by Jo Sonn on Unsplash