Thursday, 7 April 2011
It doesn't get much more seeds-and-the-city-ish than taking over a neglected rose garden on the Islington/Hackney borders and transforming it into a beautiful, vibrant space to teach kids about nature, wildlife and growing food. That's what The Garden Classroom is all about and thanks to a tip off from Joe Swift, who is their patron, I went to meet founder Marnie Rose today to find out more about the project.
It all happens in King Henry's Walk Garden, tucked away off the charmingly-named Balls Pond Road. There's a small flower garden, woodland walk, pond, raised vegetable beds and a whole range of fruit trees growing against the wall, as well as some small allotment plots which are rented out to the local community. This place is humming with growing, learning and gardening.
It's an inspiring story, because the first aim when Marnie got together with a few other local residents in 2004 was to raise money to turn a sad rose garden in to a loved community garden. It was a tucked away abused space that left visitors feeling threatened. Out of this project they realised there was a real need for inner city kids to learn about nature and the Garden Classroom started in 2008 and they now work with most of the local primary schools running curriculum related learning sessions outside the classroom.
The learning outside the classroom movement seems to be getting stronger and stronger. When you get results like the primary schools with a typical inner city demographic (50% getting free school meals) earning prizes for their science achievments which are directly linked to their outdoor lessons - it's a very positive story.
I know there are many parallel stories for the urban green community spaces in London and I hope I'll have a similar story to tell about St. Mary's Burial Ground in a few years and about The People's Plot (about which more to come).
Posted by camillap at Thursday, April 07, 2011