The team at The Learning Escape were thrilled to hear that one of our clients is in contention for a National Lottery Award in the Best Environment category. We were honoured to be chosen by Pooles Park School, in Islington, central London, two years ago when the lottery grant was awarded.
We worked closely with the garden project manager and environment tutor, Sophia Ioannou, in the development phase of the project after she approached us in 2012, having seen one of our buildings in situ at a community garden near the school.
She described her ideas for a true community project to us and we were immediately captivated by her vision and how closely it mirrored our own ideals. The school already had a well-established organic allotment, and some involvement with families and other community members. However, the promise of a lottery grant opened up the prospect for increased community participation as well as the introduction of a number of other initiatives such as a wildlife pond and bog garden and wildflower meadows.
In order that the community garden initiatives could proceed throughout the year, in all weathers, an outdoor classroom was required that had kitchenette and toilet facilities and that looked beautiful in the green oasis of the school gardens. As many local residents (including many of the school’s pupils and their families) live in flats without gardens, they don’t have the opportunity to get in touch with nature. Not surprisingly, there has been a wholehearted engagement by many locals who love the regular Saturday volunteer events and free training workshops teaching the benefits of a healthy diet and the skills for growing vegetables and fruit. There are now many flats in Islington with a salad patch on the balcony or window boxes full of herbs! For a lucky handful of families with children at the school, there are also 4 plots on the allotment available for ‘lease’, free of charge.
The Learning Escape building is the hub for all the weekend and evening activities enjoyed by volunteers, visitors and families and, during school hours, it provides invaluable extra teaching space and is a great meeting room. The children are also actively involved in keeping the gardens tended during playtimes and at afterschool clubs, and are thriving on their living science lessons covering topics from environmentalism and life cycles, through to food propagation and healthy eating.
Take a look at some photos of Pooles Park’s community garden project, and see how well they deserve the award. Maybe even vote for them on the National Lottery Awards site…we will be. Also, take a look at their lovely eco-classroom just in case you feel enthused with the idea of getting some nature into the everyday teaching at your school.
Well done Sophia and all at Pooles Park, we are rooting for you!