Lambeth GP Food Co-operative celebrated its 3rd anniversary this year. A party at Lambeth Walk Surgery, together with a brain-scrambling quiz and a magnificent birthday cake, marked the event in style.
According to Project Director, Ed Rosen, the idea behind the project is really simple: ‘ to build life affirming gardens in every one of Lambeth’s GP surgeries.’
Retired nurse and Group Leader, Hilda Castillo-Binger, took ten minutes from hosting the party to show a LGHN representative around the Lambeth site. The paved area that runs alongside the surgery is filled with an impressive array of fruit, vegetables and herbs. They’re grown in raised beds and every imaginable form of container. Half empty compost bags seem to make particularly efficient, deep pots.
Hilda, who nursed for 40 years, is just the kind of person Ed was looking for when the project began in 2013. If the Food Co-op was to be a success, there had to be someone at every surgery with a particular set of skills: a clinical background, trained or prepared to train as a master gardener, and with proven facilitation skills.
The project is addressing two particular problems – problems that are as prevalent in the rest of London as they are in Lambeth:
- Patients that suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes make the greatest use of GP surgeries. There are about 37,000 of people in this category in Lambeth alone. Providing them with the opportunity to grow vegetables in the familiar grounds of their surgery produces therapeutic benefits on many levels.
- The second problem concerns the food buying habits of the 60 hospital Trusts within the M25 circuit. The Lambeth GP Food Co-operative would like them to think ‘local’. Working with Kings College Hospital, the Lambeth Coop is developing a model that they hope will be used elsewhere. Not only do they run a popular food stall at the hospital once a month, but they also provide produce for its Spice of Life restaurant.
The next step is to launch a Community Share issue to raise money for the expansion of the project across Lambeth Borough and beyond. The Lambeth team has been working with the Community Share Company to prepare for the launch of their autumn www.crowdfunder.co.uk campaign.
For information on helping to develop this project’s rosy future see http://lambeth.gpfoodcoop.org.uk/
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