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April 5, 2017

Bottle of Ginger

It’s impossible to turn on the news just now without being berated for taking the least amount of exercise, eating all the wrong foods and drinking way too much sugar-laden fizzy drinks. Now a community enterprise from Glasgow’s Bridgeton area has decided to tackle one of these three pillars of poor health – Scotland’s ‘juice culture’. Taking over and cultivating derelict land, the group plan to grow their own ingredients on a series of urban micro-farms for a range of drinks free from sugar and artificial ingredients. 


Nan Spowart, The National

A social enterprise aimed at transforming Scottish “juice culture” hopes to reach a £10,000 crowdfunding target by tomorrow night.

Business start-up Bottle of Ginger plans to use derelict land to set up a community drinks company based in Bridgeton in the east end of Glasgow.

It would consist of a micro-brewery and a series of urban micro-farms producing ingredients for a range of locally-made drinks free from artificial additives and refined sugar.

The crowdfunding campaign managed to raise £1250 within two hours of launching and also has won a pledge of £1750 from the Santander Changemaker Fund but is short of its stretch target.

The company hopes to change the local “juice culture” by encouraging the local community to become involved in growing ingredients and developing, designing and producing better drinks.

“We know that economic poverty and food poverty are linked,” said a Bottle of Ginger spokesman. “Bridgeton is a food desert. Families and individuals on limited budgets, with limited cooking skills and limited access to affordable fresh food, have often no other option than to turn to processed convenience food. ‘Juice culture’ is representative of this.

In Bridgeton, we consume twice the national average of sugar from soft drinks per person per day than the national average. Increased levels of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are reflective of this diet.”

In 2011, Bridgeton was classed in the top five per cent of most deprived areas in Scotland meaning that the community faces complex socio-economic issues.

Living near derelict areas has been found to have an impact on health and a lower life expectancy. In Glasgow, 60 per cent of people live within 500m of derelict land. In the east end, this figure is even higher.

“Post-industrialisation and de-population of the area have left voids in both the urban fabric and the community,” the spokesman added. “We believe a community drinks company has the potential to drive local change.

“Our aim is to change local juice culture by challenging local habits and perceptions of juice, by redefining the product and by rethinking the processes involved in soft drinks manufacturing. We also believe that by getting the local community involved in the discussion around soft drinks, and in working together to grow ingredients, develop, design, manufacture and distribute better drinks, we will begin to see a shift in consumption habits and a strengthened sense of community. By transforming derelict land and disused gardens we will also see an improvement in the wellbeing of the individual, the community as a whole and the place we live.”

Before launching the crowdfunding campaign, the company looked into the east end’s soft drink manufacturing heritage, then began growing ingredients locally and experimenting with drinks-making. Using a previously derelict piece of land, herbs, cucumbers, melons, roots and flowers were grown then juiced, infused, extracted and brewed learning the basics of making drinks with natural ingredients.

The company also began to experiment with natural fermentation, which has allowed it to produce ginger beer that is completely free of artificial ingredients and refined sugar.