The Journey of :GEN - the KX jam

Eco-enterprise education has been integral to our work with young people since Global Generation started its work in King’s Cross. This summer, with funding from Greenboard, we were able to give a small group of our committed senior Generators the chance to come up with their own product, taking it from conception to promotion and finally to market. Here is the story of their journey.

It all started with a residential at our campsite on Pertwood Organic Farm, where we’ve had a presence since 2004. As ever, it offered young people the opportunity to step away from their lives in London and find a way to reconnect with a deeper part of themselves, others around them and the natural world.

“I felt I was reconnecting with nature - before moving to London I used to live in a place surrounded by nature but I never appreciated it, and didn't know what I was taking for granted until I lived in the city.” – Maedeh, 15

Back in London, Adesola, Anna, Josephine, Kitty-Fern, Maedeh, Mahima and Samika spent time together learning about the different aspects of starting up a micro-enterprise, and then creating an action plan for their project, as well as exploring the values behind it. They decided their focus was on ‘reflecting what nature has given us’ and ‘making choices that make us proud’.

“It was a new experience and I found it very enjoyable how little elements you wouldn’t even think of would go into making a product. I’m really excited to see where this project will take us as we will have all the different views, and I can’t wait to see how we merge our ideas to make a product we are proud of.” – Addie, 15

Next, they carried out market research, including discussions with:
- Accumul8: a social enterprise that works with young, homeless people, who have created a range of Preserves with a Purpose, made from surplus fruit from community gardens and allotments and local businesses
- Rubies in the Rubble: a sustainable food brand, making high quality relishes and jams out of surplus produce that would otherwise go to waste.

They also visited Karmarama, an Islington-based integrated communications and advertising agency, with clients including the BBC. Their Head of New Business, explained how Karmarama works with such clients, and shared her expertise on how the principles of promotional campaigns are pretty much the same whether you are a small business or a large conglomerate.

The team then worked on a brand and logo - coming up with :GEN, a shortening of the words ‘generator’, ‘generation’ and ‘generosity’, basing their choice on the values and spirit of their team, who were passionate about reflecting the different elements that make up their project.

Another crucial step in their journey was finance and legal training with lawyers at Marriott Harrison, a commercial law firm based in the heart of the London legal district of Chancery Lane. The focus of their training was on UK Food regulations, contracts and financial planning.

Armed with all of this knowledge, the seven girls then set about creating tasters of each of their seasonal combinations, then settled on a seasonal “Goodbye Summer” and “Hello Winter” duo of flavours: Peach & Basil as well as Spiced Plum.

Once ready, they took turns pitching their product to the likes of Waitrose and Canal Reach Canteen.

“I didn't realise what a big thing it would be pitching to businesses, and it introduced us to the working world and stepping up and I think that's already made a difference for me.” – Mahima, 16

The girls were then presented with the opportunity to co-host a fully booked session with The Floating Cinema, in the spirit of connecting city dwellers with nature. They shared their experience of Pertwood, the Skip Garden and the story behind their eco-enterprise on The Floating Cinema barge, before leading the participants to the garden to make a batch of their popular seasonal jam as well as fresh scones.

“It was run by a really nice team of people, who made me think about an alternative way of life. Very informative and enjoyable.” – Floating Cinema session participants

Over the course of the project, it was a delight to watch the young women identify their skills and interests, decide how best to serve the team, and then develop their expertise in a particular field. In this way, they naturally assumed ownership of their project and their learning journey, while Silvia, Rachel and I provided the support they needed and learnt so much in the process too! Overall, a fantastic (and hot!) summer spent stirring pots and scenting the Skip Garden and I look forward to seeing the team and business grow.