By Ceiri O’Driscoll
Peckham-grown produce could soon be hitting shelves as a local housing estate is turning unused grassland into an orchard, thanks to a coalition of groups campaigning for a healthier Southwark.
The Cossall Estate is best known for its blocks of flats and concrete walkways, but the Southwark Food Group and local environmental collective Greener Ventures are looking to change that with fruit trees and vegetable patches, growing yams, chilis and sweet potatoes.
“The Cossall Estate project is right at the beginning – the really exciting stages”, said Sarah Houghton, project manager for FOODforHEALTH, a Greener Ventures scheme encouraging volunteers to sell locally grown food. “Our main goal is to get local people eating local food and having a fruit orchard in the heart of Peckham is such an excellent step towards that,” she said. Work on converting the grassland will begin in January next year.
Funding is being drawn together from private donors, Southwark Council allocations and various London health schemes. Once the growing area is in place, volunteers will be relied upon to keep the land tended.
“Peckham needs things like this”, said Edward Thompson, 42, a Cossall Estate resident. “I have been growing my own vegetables for a few years and it’s really heartening to see other people get on board,” he said, adding: “I’m really looking forward to some Peckham-grown apples!”