Sal Chebbah is affectionately known as the ‘Mushroom Queen’ on the Lancaster West Estate in West London. The community lies in the shadow of Grenfell Tower and residents have come together in efforts to garden, grow and make the area more sustainable as a way of healing after the 2017 tragedy that claimed 72 lives.
As project manager of the Growing with North Kensington project, Sal - who runs educational mushrooming company Elysian Roots - is determined to show people that you can grow your own fresh food even if you live in an urban tower block.
Her secret weapon is fungi, which require little natural light and are easy to grow, while being a cheap and nutritious source of food - ideal in a cost of living crisis.
Sal’s project, funded by the National Lottery through the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action, provides weekly workshops on gardening and growing to pass on skills to residents, to ensure everyone has access to healthy, affordable and sustainable food. She is also passionate about the way food can bring people together, along with the therapeutic benefits of growing your own.
She says: “During the pandemic, we realised that the demand for food banks was growing fast in the area and we wanted to be able to provide people with skills to learn to grow their own food source."
"Urban food growing is something that people need to be made more aware of. You can grow food indoors easily - we can even use compostable food to grow other food. All of these simple tips can help reduce our carbon footprint.”
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