The journey from an overgrown piece of land to a community garden
As part of our ongoing project to involve the wider community, we decided to turn the overgrown green space at the front of our Hazel Avenue site into a community garden. Our aim was to provide a place for the children to play in and explore nature safely, whilst also allowing space in which the local community could gather, hold events, grow vegetables, and relax together.
We worked closely with RHS Garden Wisley staff and some students in their final year at the RHS School of Horticulture to put together the design for our Froebel-inspired intergenerational community garden:
The design needed to provide a space which had flexibility allowing a wide range of visitors. The whole garden needed to be visible from most areas, so that children can play independently but still be supervised; to that end we incorporated low hedges, which divide areas but can still be seen over. We agreed on a woodland area, a long grass meadow area, a honeycomb seating area, a cut grass community space, honeycomb allotments and a secluded seating area. Each area had a different feel but, by limiting the planting colours to a small range, we ensured the spaces still felt connected. The colour palette we chose was determined by colours most attractive to pollinators: whites and pinks, blues, purples, and yellows.
Once the design was agreed upon, the work began, starting with clearing the area of brambles and using them to create a dead hedge to attract wildlife.
We then removed the turf and added a high nutrition mulch to the areas which were due to be planted, marked out the flower beds and re-laid the turf. The plants were then laid out to our design and planted; we chose tough plants that will withstand the interaction we encourage from the children.
The honeycomb allotments were put in place and planted up with vegetables.
This project has involved the family centre, our nursery school, Pond Meadow Special School, St Peter’s Church, staff from RHS Garden Wisley, members of the Froebel Trust and local parents.
We are delighted with the results and the children are already enjoying the space and freedom to play safely in and with nature following our Froebelian principles:
Engaging with nature
Experience and understanding of nature and our place in it, is an essential aspect of Froebelian pedagogy. Through real life experiences, children learn about the interrelationship of all living things. This helps them to think about the bigger questions of the environment, sustainability, and climate change.
The central importance of play
Play is part of being human and helps children to relate their inner worlds of feelings, ideas and lived experiences taking them to new levels of thinking, feeling, imagining and creating. Children have ownership of their play.
Froebelian education values the contribution of adults offering ‘freedom with guidance’ in their work with children.
If you would like to find out more about our Community Garden, follow this link: https://youtu.be/1J0nj_Hk7zE.