Mayor of London visits the Cookbook Edible Library project at St Ann’s in Tottenham
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, along with Cllr Peray Ahmet, Leader of Haringey Council and Cllr Zena Brabazon, Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Families, saw how local families and young people in Haringey have the chance to cook their own food at one of the most borough’s most exciting new projects - the Cookbook Edible Library at St Ann’s Library garden.
A partnership between Haringey Libraries, Edible London and Volunteer It Yourself, the project has transformed a previously unused space into a flourishing community kitchen and growing garden. The work was partially funded through the first round of the Mayor’s Grow Back Greener Fund, part of the Mayor’s programme to secure a green recovery from COVID-19.
The project has twin aims of tackling food insecurity while providing excellent training for young people. Local families and young people have the chance to use the space to grow and cook their own food, while 14-24 year-olds are coached in outdoor activities including construction and gardening.
By providing positive opportunities for young people, the project is also helping to steer them away from crime, anti-social behaviour and gangs.
Approximately one in six Haringey pupils are known to be eligible for and claiming free school meals (16 per cent), but provisions are not available out of school hours. This project aims to be up and running in time for their planned summer holiday food programme for children and young people who often have little or no access to healthy food.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital importance of Haringey’s green spaces for Londoners’ health and wellbeing. The Edible Library garden is part of the council’s Borough Plan commitment to promote and improve Haringey’s open and green spaces.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As Mayor, I want London to lead the way in tacking the climate emergency and for all Londoners to be have access to great green spaces close to where they live. The new funding I am announcing today during London Climate Action Week is just the start of even more investment in green spaces, nature and projects to help tackle the climate emergency.
“The community-led projects that benefit from our grants provide so much more than just improved green space for local communities. The Cookbook Edible Library project I visited today provides an educational, safe space for young people to develop new skills – providing positive opportunities and alternatives to those who might be vulnerable to getting drawn into gangs.”
Cllr Zena Brabazon, Haringey Cabinet Member for Early Years, Children and Families said:
This fantastic garden is the result of hard work by dedicated volunteers and community groups, delivering a wonderful local resource. It connects this lovely local library even more to our community.
Our libraries are a real haven and I am proud we are seeing further developments. At St Ann’s, the garden provides children and young people with real life experience connecting valuable life skills on good nutrition and food budgeting with reading and study. A great combination of learning and activity, and we will continue to invest in training and skills for all of Haringey’s young residents.
Edible London founder, Sunny Karagozlu, said:
The importance of this project goes beyond merely food and growing. Here, at Edible London, food is the connecting block to a whole new world. Disenfranchised youth can enter a safe space where they can not only read and educate themselves - in terms of using the services already on offer at the library - but where they can now also get access to an educational growing space.
Furthermore, thanks to the state-of-the-art kitchen on site, young people will also be able to see how some of these foods can be used, first-hand, through the provision of educational cooking workshops centred around plants. Put down the knife and pick up the shovel because the seeds we sow today, helps our communities grow tomorrow.
Ed Sellwood, Founder & Operations Director at VIY:
The community kitchen and growing garden at St Ann's Library is a great example of how VIY combines vocational skills training and employability outcomes for young people with the transformation of under-utilised 'grey space' into a brilliant new green, sustainable community asset.
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