Whilst Men’s sheds are well know for woodwork and other practical activities such as: bike maintenance, recycling, model making and computer skills, an important part of the DNA of many sheds is food and the sharing of hospitality.
The first men’s shed project that I was involved in was Resurrection Bikes in Harrogate. John who was one of the core team that started the group, insisted that one of the core values of the group should be “cake”. This became an important part of the DNA of the shed, with members and friends of the shed bringing cakes to be shared with fellow members.
As the sharing of cake created the excuse and reason to stop working and sit down together to share cake, tea, coffee and conversation.
Other sheds like the Lions Den Shed in Keighley have an area set aside as a social space, complete with a hot water boiler a dish washer and biscuit tin, which is always ready for sharing.
One of the daily rituals for members of Wharfedale Men’s Shed, based in Otley, is that when it comes to lunch time there is a group visit to a local butchers shop that sells hot pies and sandwiches. The walk to and from the shop provides a brake from the other activities as well as an opportunity to chat together with different members and purchase delicious hot food.
The Northallerton Shed in its first premises had a small kitchen area with a cooker. This enabled bacon rolls and other hot food to be prepared. The shed also arranged for a session with a home economic teacher to provide some classes on cooking for the guys; some of whom are widowers and were needing to brush up on their skills.
So whilst food may not be high profile in what men’s sheds are about for many sheds is a intrinsic part of the their DNA, which helps to generate a sense of community as food is prepared and shared between members.
Home made tea loaf prepared by a shed member for sharing at a shed.