Nutty plans for North London Park by foraging football funds

Activists are drafting a plan to build the world's biggest park that you can eat, in North London. Mabley Green Park is about four hectare wide, which would beat the current edible park record holder in Seattle when the plantation of fruits, nuts and herbs would be finalised. 

The proposal has been put forward to the Hackney Council by campaigners of Mabley Green user group for over a decade. Its Chairman Damian Rafferty said at their meeting this week: “This is a watershed moment. We have received over 1200 signatures supporting this proposal which demonstrates that this isn't the view of only a couple of oddballs.“ 

The project is part of a bigger reconstruction project of the park, managed by David White, which will also see a playground and more football pitches built. He says £100 000 is held by Hackney Council to build the public orchard, foraged from the funds provided by the Football Association and Football Foundation to pay for more football pitches at the park. 

But there are worried voices over the sustainability of the park. Jon Sheaff, the landscape architect who has designed the proposed orchard says that it is important to start small, and train volunteers as the council doesn’t have money to pay for the maintenance of the garden. "I think it's a great idea for the space but I do have concerns because if we just plant some fruit trees and walk away and expect it to work, I think it's a recipe for disaster.”

Daniel Rafferty and the rest of Mabley Green user group are working together with London Orchards to figure out how to get the local community involved in the planting and pruning required. As the plan for the park’s construction is reaching its final approval stages with the council, he acknowledges the challenges ahead. "It's not like putting up a sign in Hampstead with all the yummy mummies. It's going to be hard work." 

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