From little seeds…
Our story started 3 years ago when we discovered a dilapidated plant nursery next to an allotment site off Cricket Road in Oxford. It was disused for 10 years and was overgrown with brambles. But there was something magical about the place and with a cabin, poly-tunnels, an orchard and growing areas, we saw there was huge potential to unlock.
A group a parents, community members and educators formed a Cooperative and set about to transform it into a beautiful educational space for families to be outside and connect with nature.
We want to offer childcare from our site, for early-years foundation stage children and up, with a focus on Forest School, food-growing, outdoor play and self-directed learning. This will be run cooperatively by parents and staff, making it affordable for families.
The space will also be a welcoming local resource, a place where local families can spend time with their children, meet other parents and build social networks. Alongside regular childcare, we will offer community activities and events.
Following the closure of many children’s centres, the lack of wild spaces for outdoor play in the city, the climate crisis and the escalating costs of childcare, we know our project is what families are looking for.
Fertile ground for growth
We secured a peppercorn lease on the site from the City Council and have held over 40 volunteer work-parties since March 2018, with 1,243 volunteer hours given, to cut through the bramble jungle and clear the rubbish.
Luckily, we’ve attracted a committed band of volunteers who have been willing get their hands dirty! We’ve built an amazing community and have welcomed families to our site through our successful summer Forest School pilot and enchanting seasonal events. Already, we’ve achieved a massive visible change on the site. We now have a blank canvas and big plans for our next stage.
Cultivating our site
We are planning grand improvements to the site including eco-renovating our cabin, recovering our polytunnels, building a compost toilet, reconnecting our water and energy and creating beautiful play and growing spaces. The renovation work will be an educational opportunity in itself, as we’ll do it through community work-parties and workshops for families to build skills over next Spring and Summer.