Jim Craddock, one of the founding ‘Hornbeamers’ tells the story of how The Hornbeam came into being.
Twenty five years ago on St Georges Day – at the Bakers Arms end of Hoe Street – something special happened. A group of concerned environmentalists had coalesced around an idea – an Environmental Centre for Waltham Forest – and on 23 April 1994 – they opened the doors to The Hornbeam Centre and Café.
From left to right it’s David ‘Nod’ Ellis, Jowanna Lewis, Bundy Braga, Diane Sizer, Dave Cullen, George Warren, Lesley Broadbent and Christian Mountney.
There had been a vegetarian café in Palmerston Road, which had provided a focus for locals, but that had closed. Forest Recycling Project (which is still going from strength to strength after nearly 30 years) had just started out, so Jowanna Lewis and Diane Sizer, who’d met at the Palmerston Road café, decided an old newsagents on Hoe Street would be the perfect venue for the new one.
Their vision was amazing and their enthusiasm soon rubbed off on other people. And so with a small amount of funding, a lot of volunteer time and effort and an incredible amount of dust, Hornbeam Environmental Centre opened on 23rd April 1994. And it’s still going today, with its vegan café and restaurant (called Gannets) and community space providing that continuing focus for environmental action in the borough.
Jim said: “We didn’t realise what we were getting into back then, but there was something infectious about giving up your weekends to build the place, and then, once it had opened, volunteering at the restaurant once you’d finished your day job. Seeing it thriving 25 years later has made that investment so worthwhile.”
Kali has worked as a freelance chef for more than ten years, travelling the world for work and pleasure. She’s always been a lover of food and conscious of the treatment of animals and well being of the earth.
Fascinated by the way food works with your body Kali trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, a school specialising in vegetarian health supportive cooking, this is where her style of cooking began to develop. Building relationships with local growers such as Growing Communities has encouraged Kali’s enthusiasm and belief in the need to be more in touch with where our food comes from and the impact the food system has on our environment and local community.
Got an exciting Hornbeam Nights idea? If you’d like to use the Hornbeam cafe for an event, workshop or a pop-up Supper Club contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can support with publicity, bar and more and have a huge amount of cafe/kitchen resources too.
We’re looking for a volunteer to help us book and organise events at The Hornbeam in E17 and our Hornbeam Learning Lodge in E4.
We’d love to have you for around 5 hours a week, working from our office at the Hornbeam Centre (Mon, Tues or Fri), or at the Hornbeam Learning Lodge in Chingford on Thursdays. You’ll need to be good on the phone and on the computer (email, Excel, online booking systems) and be a great organiser. If you also have social media skills that would work well too, but not essential.
This would be particularly suitable for someone who’s already got good contacts in the community with artists, workshop leaders, etc, and could help spread the word about our facilities and venues.
Sun 22 April, 4-8pm (note later start time than previously advertised).
Join Walthamstow’s first fully vegan cafe and celebrate good food and good people.
Meet the new chefs. Eat the food. Find out the amazing things the Hornbeam does. Family Friendly drop-in. 4-8pm.
You can also bring along some vinyl and spin some tunes with Patrick Steele leading Open Decks. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never DJed – now’s your chance to take control of the music!
We’ll also be showing the Hornbeam JoyRiders / Cycle Sisters short film and sharing info about all the exciting things going on at the Hornbeam and Learning Lodge generally, as well as keeping you fed with scrumptious tasters.
“The Hornbeam has been instrumental to the growth of my business: without their support and encouragement, it would have been far more difficult to gain the confidence and experience to try serving so many people at once. A valuable community asset…” Tegan – Pie N Mash Pop-up
“Hornbeam nights are a genuinely unique part of Walthamstow life and offer great opportunities for people. I was made to feel confident and comfortable in trying things for the first time and I’m very grateful for that. The Hornbeam Cafe is a very encouraging environment for creativity, friendship and life.” Liam Emerson, Ra Ra Ramen Pop-up, DJ & musician
Apple Day is one of Walthamstow’s regular highlights of the year so join us again for another apple-y adventure held in the gorgeous gardens of Vestry House Museum and organised by The Hornbeam Centre and Cafe with partners OrganicLea and Artillery and involving lots of amazing local community organisations.
If you have apples in a tree in your garden please get in touch with Organiclea who can come and pick them for you and make them into apple juice on the day!
Lots of Arts and Crafts for all the family to get involved in too, and music from the delectable Auntie Maureen, Walthamstow’s finest vintage DJ.
Come and taste and buy apples, apple trees, apple juice, cider and cake!
Do apple bobbing, use the vintage apple press to make juice, and try your luck in the longest peel competition.
We need lots of volunteers to help out on the day and it’s a wonderful event to be involved in! Contact us here.
Community cafe, event space and environment centre // 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 9AH // 020 8558 6880