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Tottenham Plough Woman

Over the last few years Tottenham has become known for place that makes great beer and produce. Back when it was more of a secret, local woman Cheryl Cohen worked with local producers to put together the Tottenham Ploughman festival to highlight the great things happening in the area. The festival ran several times a year at different local venues from 2013 to 2017. After having a few years break, it is back for a Tottenham Taster on 29th September at the Lordship Hub. Rachel Ho spoke with Cheryl to find out more.

Photo supplied: Cheryl Cohen, founder of Tottenham Ploughman

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in North London so I'm not so far from home. My first Saturday job was at Boots when it was on Wood Green high road!

Describe your relationship to Tottenham

I've been living in Tottenham Hale for about ten years. My relationship is directly with the River Lea because my flat faces right onto it.

There are bits of Tottenham I don't like and parts I love; it was the latter that made me want to start the Tottenham Ploughman; instead of moaning about where I live, do something positive about it.

Tell us about Tottenham Ploughman and how it got started. The first event took place in September 2013. There were so many negative stories about Tottenham in the press. Taxi drivers were always asking me it was safe to live here.

Photo supplied: Cheryl with Redemption, Wildes Cheese and Flourish Bakery.

I wanted to do something positive to showcase the amazing things going on here and the produce being made but not sold here. I knew Flourish Bakery, I'd met Philip and Keith from Wildes Cheese and I knew about Redemption Brewery. All were based in Tottenham but apart from Redemption who sold to a couple of places including the Conservative club, did not sell their produce here. Bread, cheese and beer; the Tottenham Ploughman. All 3 businesses were enthusiastic about the idea so I contacted Lydia from HAIL who ran the cafe in Downhills Park at the time to ask if they'd like to partner up with me. And that's how the first event was put together.

The park cafe sold Ploughmans platters; my fridge was full of home made pickles that I made! There were queues for bread, beer and cheese and Redemption even had to return at least two times to the brewery for supplies. There hadn't been anything like this in Tottenham before.

Photo supplied: Punters at Tottenham Ploughman

Tottenham Ploughman took a few years off running, why is that?

Work! I work full time and I ran out of energy. Lots of community festivals have a whole host of people to help but there's just two of us doing most of the work. We do everything for the Tottenham Ploughman in our spare time.

What can we expect at the event this year and what plans are there for the future?

On Sunday 29th September we're back at Lordship Rec for a Tottenham Taster, going back to how we began with Wildes Cheese, Redemption Brewery plus Celtic Bakery, Living Under One Sun, and Prestige Patisserie. We'll be putting on another crayfish boil that evening with Crayfish Bob.

We'll be back Sunday 24th May 2020 at Lordship Rec with The Riverfest; the crayfish boil is a reminder of our theme; looking after our rivers.

If you want to see what we're about, read more here.

Photo supplied: Crayfish boil event

As a woman, how do you think the Tottenham has changed? What would you like to see change?

There are more people who care about the environment, how Tottenham looks, I'd like to see more sustainable, seasonal, high welfare ingredients used in restaurants, cafes etc, but that's everywhere, not just Tottenham. The main change I've seen is a positive vibe and positive press, more community projects, and great street art.

Like many people I'd like to see a cinema here. We've got so many beautiful old cinema buildings, I'd love to see one restored back to its original use, but that's unlikely to happen.

There are too many empty boarded up shops that could be put to better use given to local start ups with a peppercorn rent.

I'd get rid of all the betting shops if I could, and lastly, we only have one Blue Plaque house in Tottenham; namer of clouds Luke Howard house sitting on Bruce Grove, unloved and falling apart for years. It needs to be compulsory purchased by the council and put to better use.

Favourite thing to do in Tottenham?

Walk or cycle by the river.

Photo supplied: Performers at Tottenham Ploughman

Anything you would like to add?

The festivals we run are always free; tickets for the crayfish boil are available on Eventbrite.

For more information about Tottenham Ploughman:

#breweries #festivals #TottenhamPloughman #crayfish #produce #cheese


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