Put Mabley Green on the map with world's largest edible park, urge campaigners
PUBLISHED: 18:56 03 October 2013 | UPDATED: 19:03 03 October 2013
A petition has been launched calling on the council to turn the "vast, empty, boring space" at Mabley Green into the largest edible park in the world.
In 2008, £100,000 of funding was set aside for the parkland, off Homerton Road, which the users group wants to spend on developing a massive community garden full of fruit and nut trees, herbs and shrubs.
They would also like to employ outreach workers to encourage youngsters on nearby deprived estates like Kingsmead to get involved in food growing.
The parkland currently houses eight football pitches, relocated from East Marsh when it was paved over to make an Olympic coach and lorry park.
A promise was made that they would return there once the 11 pitches were reinstated on the Marsh, but in June the users group discovered that the council planned to retain four pitches on Mabley Green without having consulted them, as well as retaining an all-weather football pitch costing £100 an hour to use.
They complained and the council agreed to retain just two grass pitches, whilst building another all-weather pitch.
“It’s a failing public space and sticking football pitches on there when we have lots already is not really good enough,” said Damian Rafferty, chairman of the Mabley Green Users Group, who believes the parkland could become a “national gem and a trendsetter”.
“It’s a way of getting the community together and getting the area to blossom,” he added.
“It’s just a vast empty space. Imagine how many people don’t have a garden on Kingsmead, and yet nobody thinks to use it.
“There’s something chronically wrong – any other park space in Hackney is thriving.”
“These are areas of real need. We would like to get the kids down there involved in planting, eating healthily and having a bit of fun, but that does require quite a bit of organisation.
“Community outreach isn’t easy, you need to employ people who know what they are doing.
“The world’s largest edible park is in Seattle and is the size of five football pitches, which could be beaten by Mabley Green, which is about the size of 10 football pitches.
“The money’s there and it’s not even their money, it’s just a question of how well it’s spent,” added Mr Rafferty.
“We think an edible park will put Hackney on the map just as much as the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend did, except at a far smaller cost and a genuine benefit to people living in Hackney for generations to come.”
In a statement Cllr Jonathan McShane, cabinet member for health, social care and culture, said plans for Mabley Green already include a proposal to spend £100,000 on an edible park and landscaping.
He added: “Building the world’s largest edible park would mean losing sports pitches and taking away facilities used by young people.”
To view the petition go to www.change.org/petitions/hackney-council-help-us-create-the-world-s-largest-edible-park.