In partnership with London Cooking Project we have built a community kitchen garden on the Ethelburga estate in Battersea. The London Cooking Project (LCP), situated in the middle of the Ethelburga Estate, is a social enterprise community kitchen that works to provide opportunities to develop and nurture young talent in the culinary field, and runs community based food projects focused on healthy eating and cooking skills.

As with many inner London housing estates, there is limited green space available on Ethelburga Estate. However, there were some spaces on the estate that held significant potential for growing food (including a flat, paved area immediately adjacent to the LCP) so we, in partnership with LCP, have developed these sites into a community kitchen garden by building raised beds for food growing. A once uninspiring piece of land has been turned into a vibrant, biodiverse food growing space for all the community to enjoy.

In addition, we have partnered with the Ethelburga Community Gardening Club, which already runs a fantastic community gardening project a short walk from the LCP, to enhance their community garden. Community gardens have been shown to greatly increase community cohesion and develop a richer community, bringing people from different generations and backgrounds together (see “Growing Health: Food growing for health and wellbeing”, 2014). In developing and enhancing these growing spaces we’ve been able to engage and serve the community through:

  • Weekly volunteer sessions where local residents (and others) come and join in the gardening sessions every Friday.
  • We’ve delivered a number of free training sessions; on organic growing, composting, amongst others, across these sites, giving community members the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge to utilise and also pass on.
    Fresh, local produce is available free of charge for local residents who volunteer at the gardens.
  • The produce is also used by participants of healthy cooking and eating projects at LCP, where they are able to first garden and harvest produce, then cook and eat it. And the community canteen at LCP on Tuesday evenings also receives food donations from the kitchen garden beds.

Hiring a young person from the Ethelburga Estate area as an apprentice to manage the gardens under our direction, as well as working with the rest of the team of our other sites throughout London. Over the course of the project the apprentice will gain a range of valuable employability skills (e.g. confidence, time keeping, volunteer management), and a Level 2 diploma in horticulture, giving him a “leg up” into long-term, sustained employment.

We could not have made this project happen without the very generous grants and donations from; Garfield Weston Foundation, Wandsworth Council, Wates Foundation and the many individuals through crowdfunding platform Spacehive. A huge thank you to you all.

Gardening will take place across the London Cooking Project kitchen garden, the Ethelburga Community Garden and outside the Community Centre, with volunteer sessions run by local residents every Friday. No need to book…just show up! Any queries email: rosie@cultivatelondon.org