Gatton School, located near Tooting Broadway, have been coming to the Community Garden every week since March as part of their Outdoor Learning programme. At the moment we have Year One and Year Six staff and children taking part, alongside TTT volunteers.
Between now and the end of term in December, we are running two projects: the Big Build, and Bug Hotels (we seem to be in a construction frame of mind, good for these winter weeks).

The plan takes shape

The Big Build is a set of weekly steps that will construct a rain-water harvesting roof (and that will also provide shelter for activities in 2014…so it is win-win!). TTT’s resident civil engineer, Richard, has developed the steps. As in all projects success depends on having a good plan (and knowing when you need to modify it) and people who want it to succeed (TTT volunteers and the children). Oh…and some decent weather. The school is linking the project with learning objectives for the children, and there’ll be a great sense of practical achievement all round when it’s all done.

And like all projects the pre-work is important. First we have to clear the is a report on yesterday’s first step:

“This week we have started our rainwater catchment project with year 6 of Gatton School. The project, born from the necessity at the garden for stored rainwater has become a 7 week project with the children. Our aim is to teach the kids about making foundations, setting timbers straight in our wobbly garden, re-using timber and sheet material, learning about capturing rainwater – and creating a shelter, within which we shall celebrate our combined efforts in their last week of term.
Compost looking for a heap

However, this week was not as glamorous as all that. We cleared the remainder of the compost area, cut back the long grass around the build, sorted and stacked the useful on site materials and broke down the remainder of the black hoarding that used to run across the width of the site. Foundations next…what fun!”

The second project is Bug Hotels. This project will use recycled materials to provide shelter for the beneficial insects and other creatures that live in the Garden. In fact with dozens of children involved, the Community Garden’s mini-beasts are going to be very well housed. Again, this project can link with activities in school, and useful preparation can be done at school if we are rained off.

Palatial overwintering site

Small and simple accommodation

We know that above all these projects are about offering two valuable experiences: enjoying time oudoors, and learning new things in a creative way, together. Even if project plans get stretched, it’s great to have the opportunity- plus cooperation between the school and TTT -so we can all experiment. We’ll let you know how we progress!