On the morning of Saturday 23rd September, 22 keen people turned up at Byron’s Pool in Grantchester, to participate in a “Swim the Cam” fundraising event – 3.4km down the course of the River Cam. And why? To raise money through sponsorship and crowdfunding for a new Sustainable Food Hub, a project of Cambridge Sustainable Food to enable a more radical shift towards enabling sustainable eating behaviours and a sustainable local food economy.
As one of these 22 swimmers, I have to say it was a fantastic event from both a swimming side and a project side. Months in the planning, it was all worth it when the morning kicked off with all of us swimmers enthusiastically preparing to take to the water among a crowd of friends and family, volunteers safety marshals and kayakers as well as the Cambridge News crew. For some of us it was the first such an open water swim, so bright blue hats were put on, last minute goggles were borrowed, though wetsuits were optional in the 20 degree water.
The swim itself wound its way through Grantchester meadows, with challenges including the shallow reeds, territorial swans and a good deal of punt traffic. Still, with beautiful scenery and and high-vis marshals cheering us along every 1000m, time passed quickly and swimmers finished at Lamas Land from 45 minutes to 2 hours later. The journey was also captured on go-pro video.
At the finish line there was a celebration party of sustainable food and community. The City mayor Cllr Jeremy Benstead greeted us swimmers at the finishing line, and we were joined by street vendors, including Holy Schnitzels, on of Cambridge Sustainable Food’s sustainability award winning pledge organisations. It is these smaller, sustainable businesses in Cambridge that could hugely benefit from a Sustainable Food Hub.
The food hub will be a permanent venue facilitating a sustainable food economy by providing affordable space for local sustainable food enterprises, and local residents will also benefit from a retail outlet, café and community space. To learn more about the what, why and how of the project, see here.
The fundraising event‘s aim was to raise £2,000 through individual sponsorship as well as donations to kick-start the Food Hub project (still receiving donations). The whole project will cost about £150,000, which will be raised through crowdfunding and ‘Friends of the Food Hub membership”, and with this money it will be able to acquire and develop the most appropriate premises.
From the swimmers, and all those involved, there is a big sentiment of thanks towards Duncan Catchpole, who organised the Swim the Cam, and also took to the water himself! Duncan is managing director of the Cambridge Organic Food Company, and has pioneered the food hub project.
All in all it was a fantastic day, with a great sense of community of people who love open water, love the Cam, love sustainable food and want to help make the Sustainable Food Hub project a physical reality. Thank you to all those who organised, helped, supported, snapped pictures and of course the swimmers.
Some closing comments from other swimmers, also just show what a feat the swim was, and that people in our Cambridge community and visitors will take on a challenge like this to support the prospect of having a thriving Sustainable Food Hub in Cambridge in the future.
“I didn’t realise just how far it was and definitely couldn’t have done it without knowing that the support structure was there”
“It was lovely to meet so many enthusiastic swimmers.”
“It was my first open water swim and now looking for others to do. Duncan- are there plans to organise the same swim next year?”
Finally, for more pictures see Cambridge New’s report of this fantastic event.