“I feel a big responsibility for making sure I leave this world better than I found it.”

“I feel a big responsibility for making sure I leave this world better than I found it.”

Each month, E-News will introduce you to a member of our Soil Association Scotland and Food for Life Scotland teams with an interview. This month, Partnerships Manager Sarah Gowanlock opens up about her favourite recipes, her career journey and what sustainability means to her. 

Q1. What is your name and your job title?  

S: My name is Sarah Gowanlock and Im Partnerships Manager here with Food for Life Scotland, a Soil Association programme funded by Scottish Government. Through my role, I build and maintain supportive partnerships across the food systems sector in Scotland, working closely with strategic stakeholders to embed the Food for Life approach wherever possible. 

Q2. When did you join Food for Life Scotland?  

S: I joined the Food for Life Team in 2018 as a Project Officer. I was responsible for providing support with the team’s communication, financial administration, research, evaluation, monitoring, and knowledge sharing activities. Then, I moved onto Project Manager for Community Food Hubs and Programme Adaptation, which in turn lead to becoming Partnerships Manager last year. And what a year it has been! From ScotHot to our Scottish Parliament event with ASSIST, launching our #GivePeasAChance pilot project with Aberdeen City Council in partnership with Sustain and Bridging the Gap, it has been busy, and I have enjoyed every minute. 

Q3. What is your favourite thing about working at Soil Association/Food for Life Scotland?  

S: Honestly? It would have to be the people. We are a small team, but mighty in spirit. We are tight knit and passionate about what we do. Our monthly potluck lunches, filled with delicious and healthy food, helps seal the deal and would be a very close second to the team.  

Q4. Discuss your journey with sustainability/the environment. Why is this important to you?  

S: The environment has always felt important to me. In an increasingly worrisome environmental period, doing the work I do feels like helping to support a better world for our young people and future generations. I feel a big responsibility for making sure I leave this world better than I found it.  

Q5. Can you walk us through a day in your life?  

S: This will be quite cliché, but as Partnerships Manager no two days are the same. Some days I am sitting at my computer taking calls, emailing or problem solving. Others, like this month, I had a week where I was at the ASSIST Conference 2024 and then visiting Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Prisons. Few people can say they have had a week like that! 

Q6. What is your favourite dish to cook?  

S: Controversial, but anything with tofu! I maintain that cabbage is an underrated ingredient and with the right recipe, it can shine.  

Q7. What is a recipe book you always go back to, and why?  

S: It is a classic answer, but a good one – The Green Roasting Tin by Rukmini Iyler. There are so many quick and easy recipes to try and as a vegetarian, it’s brilliant for finding a new way to cook an old favourite ingredient. We also get veg boxes each week and it can be handy to find inspiration to use up something we may not typically eat.  

Q8. What is a thing you do to relax?

S: I try a lot of different classes available through either City of Edinburgh Council or ones I find online, as I like to try new things. A recent class I went to was a stained- glass window class where I created my own stained -glass. It was a lot of fun!  

Q9. Is there podcast you are listening to right now? 

S:  I grew up in the States and like to keep up to date with what’s happening at home with this year being big with the national election. So, I have been upping my listens of different American politics podcasts to stay up to date with the goings-on back home.

Q10. What is one thing people may get wrong about your job/you wish people would know?  

S: That I *only* spend my days talking to people! We are also working out how to find solutions and drive change by working together rather than all coming at it from our silos. And working with others is really the engine that drives that forward and are an inspiration every day. I am lucky to be working with a lot of brilliant people, both here at Soil Association and our partners.