LOCATION: Tottenham, London.
AIM: To transform local people’s lives by enabling engagement with, and productive use of, the immediate environment.
BACKGROUND: Back2Earth (B2E) began life in 2004 as a local community regeneration and environmental charity, developing a programme of environmental volunteering (particularly around local community food production) and green skills training projects, mainly for marginalised and disadvantaged residents.
- As a result of an ‘Awards for All’ grant in April 2008 and subsequent support from the London Borough of Haringey (through their ‘Making the Difference’ fund), a series of pilot projects were established and sustained, encouraging people from the many different local communities to come together around food; to grow and produce their own food, and share their favourite recipes; to focus on preparing healthy, affordable, fresh meals using sustainable, seasonal, locally-grown fruit and vegetables where possible.
- The pilot projects included: the Community Kitchen, the Community Gardens and the Food Co-op. The Community Kitchen and Healthy Eating projects are run in the kitchen and café area of Broadwater Farm Community Centre, with a series of Community Cook-ins every Friday involving local community cooks who come in to run the sessions. Through the pilot monthly Food Co-op, B2E bought in organic fruit and vegetables from out-of-London farmers, whole foods from wholesalers and as much locally-produced food as available. This was sold at little more than cost price to the community and any surplus was cooked up in the Community Kitchen.
- In partnership with CoNEL (College of North East London), an RIPH assessor and a professional caterer, B2E also began the B2E Education and Training programme, organising accredited catering and food hygiene training, healthy food workshops and some Community Action for Energy workshops focused on reducing local carbon footprints.
- The Community Garden was designed after three years of local consultation and planning, with the site divided into three main garden project areas: (1) the main community garden and growing area on the North West side of the centre; (2) the leisure garden at the south end of the western side of the Community Centre which has been designed as a scented, decorative amphitheatre space and as an adjunct to the Centre’s Farm Community Café – this will be contained by an apple/pear tree arched walkway; and (3) a small productive children’s organic nature garden to the Eastern side of the Centre, designed with input from local children and funded by the People’s Millions Programme.
- The Community Garden is run almost completely on a voluntary basis, with the exception of two staff, the session tutors and some accreditation costs. Broadwater Farm Community Centre has offered the premises and its services free for the pilot period. B2E is now seeking to fund a more permanent future for the B2E Farm Community Café as a full time social enterprise, which will train, qualify and employ local people.
- Since April 2010, in coordination with Natural England, BTCV, the local NHS and Primary Care Practices, B2E have developed and run a Green Gym programme within their Community Gardening areas. Green Gyms aim to improve fitness and health through gardening and environmental conservation. They currently operate twice a week on two B2E Community Gardening sites, with three B2E volunteer mentors trained by BTCV to run the sessions.