The Hackney Market where you pay what you want.

Cake, Carrots and Community Conscience

Ruth, who runs Save the Date
Ruth, who runs Save the Date

Save the Date, the hackney Market changing the way we see food waste.

As you walk into the foyer of St John’s the Baptist Church, you’ll find a small stall full of fruit and vegetables. Ruth McCabe is adjusting the meticulous presentation as her partner James Smart sorts out their shed. A sign in front says “Pay-as-you-feel.”

The pop-up market, named ‘Save the Date’ is part of the ‘pay as you feel’ movement which aims to minimise food waste. McCabe and Smart also own a cafe in Dalston by the same name, advertised on their website as an ‘egalitarian eatery.

There is no fixed price on how much you have to pay for goods which attracts people who may not be able to afford the food sold at supermarkets.

“We get a lot of people coming in who are on a low budget at the time but can’t be referred to a foodbank because they’re working – and we do allow people to get a healthy shop and let them be still able to pay the rent.”

Leftover produce is donated from other markets and companies, and rebranded as “perfectly imperfect produce.”

“[The food] comes from a company called Natoora, [a fruit and vegetable company based in Bermondsey] and then Borough Market, we collect from there twice a week, and then the bread comes from the Bread Ahead bakery and Better Health in Haggerston,” Ruth


“We saw the amount of waste that was actually being produced by restaurants, and suppliers. I’ve also worked as a market trader so we had an understanding of how much goes to waste. And then we saw a documentary about the pay-as-you-feel movements led by the Real Junk Food project.”

The ‘Save the Date’ market was previously in Dalston for three and a half years before moving to its new location in Hoxton.

The Bean Shed is their permanent cafe with a pay as you feel lunch and cake menu. Low-priced locally roasted filter coffee and tea is provided too.

Save The Date - The Hackney market where you pay what you want
Save The Date – The Hackney market where you pay what you want

The couple also use their market and shed to help people gain experience in the food industry.

“When someone has volunteered for us for more than 15 hours we pay for them to do their food hygiene certificate so obviously we can give them professional references, and link up people with chefs that we know from work.”

Prior to Save the Date, Ruth had roles as a market trader, personal assistant and sous chef while her partner was a chef.

Their market is open from 11-5pm Tuesday to Friday at the Bean Shed, St Johns Church, Hoxton.