The Free Cafe

The Free Cafe is a socially engaged commonal art project that replaces the direct use of money with large scale cooperative generosity. The Free Café is created for free so that it can serve meals for free. It is the purpose of the Free Cafe to find a pathway around the financial system to the extend that no money at all is involved, so that in this place, money cannot form a strain on social status.

The Free Café is a big group of people that donate their time, share their knowledge, use their skills and put in effort to create and run a restaurant for free. It’s this generosity of a community being formed that carries the whole project. Within this open community, knowledge can be gained and spread and skills can be acquired. The organization is by everyone, it is a self-organized non-hierarchical set-up in which every one is welcome to join in any way and capacity they see fit. The Free Café is not an organisation, no charity and not a business, it’s the creation of a community that is set out to create inclusion.

For materials and food products we need to only use what others have discarded. We’ve set up a wide network to repurpose fruits and vegetables that have been rejected by farmers and growers and to catch ‘last-minute’ foods at retail. The Free Café opened in November 2014 in Groningen in the garden and greenhouse of Tuin in de Stad. Together we built a wooden accomodation where The Free Café offered food and workshops twice a week serving up to 150 guests a vegan multi-course dinner for free.

After the original Free Cafe closed it’s kitchen in May 2016, two new Free Cafe’s opened up in other parts of the city of Groningen. Follow their tracks at:

I talk about the start of The Free Café in a TEDx talk