New ‘eco garden’ to help feed struggling families

Cooking Champions opens garden in Ponders End to grow produce for its meals for local people in poverty

The launch event for Cooking Champions' eco kitchen garden
The launch event for Cooking Champions’ eco kitchen garden

A social enterprise providing free food for people living in poverty has opened an “eco kitchen garden” that will be used to grow fresh ingredients for its meals.

Cooking Champions has launched the garden at its base at St Matthew’s Church in Ponders End, with a ribbon-cutting event attended at the weekend by Dame Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London. The project has been made possible thanks to a collaboration with another local organisation, Direct Community Support, led by Metin Ali.

Clare Donovan, Cooking Champions founder, told the Dispatch: “We just thought that having fresh produce on our doorstep would be a great addition to our kitchen.

“We had a lot of help from Metin Ali, he was instrumental in putting it together, so it was a real collaborative effort. We love a challenge so we put it all together in just three weeks!”

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Clare said the garden was created for the dual purpose of both growing vegetables to use in the kitchen and “providing a calm and peaceful environment” for guests.

At the launch event, members of the community, volunteers and supporters enjoyed a spring salad buffet with each dish carefully selected to highlight all the vegetables now growing at the eco garden – including courgettes, tomatoes and raspberries. Local musician Luna Muncaster also treated visitors to a guitar set.

Cooking Champions already runs a twice weekly foodbank, free community meals every Thursday and also free cooking lessons.

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