Saturday, 3 May 2014

Grow Your Own!

Our latest Play Local holiday project took place over the Easter break. We invited artist Matthew James Kay to Sceaux Gardens estate to work with the children to redevelop the overgrown allotments near the Shop of Possibilities. As well as being an artist working across a variety of media, Matthew also runs Eyes Pie Arts, which provides innovative, immersive art learning experiences for pre-school children. Over a four day period Matthew guided the children through the different processes which were needed to get the allotment to a stage where they could be replanted with lots of fruit, veg and herbs.

Day One:
The task for the first day was to remove all the weeds from the allotment beds and to try and save any plants that may already be growing. This was a huge task, but the children and staff took to it with enthusiasm.

Tamzin finds the first vegetable

Konniemae takes a well deserved rest

The front four beds are almost done

Ben starts work on the back four overgrown beds

We found roots which looked like long skinny carrots

We also found some worms, which Brajan wasn't too happy about...

Day Two:
Today we carried on clearing the beds and started to prepare the soil for planting. We had a larger group of people digging today, which meant we could get to work on all the really tricky weeds.

Khalid prepares the soil

Tamzin gets to work on a really long weed

The front four beds are almost ready!

We replant the strawberry plants we found in one of the allotments the day before

And make sure they get plenty of water

We work out where our rosemary plants and bay tree are going to go

Then we plan where all the other seeds will be planted

Day Three:
Today we set to work planting the rest of the seeds. We took our plans outside and Matthew showed the children how to plant different seeds.

The allotment plans

Planting our runner beans in pots

Junior marks out where the lettuce seeds will go

Tamzin wears an appropriate (BE)Wilder T-Shirt

Basit and Junior make sure all the new seeds are watered

We take our potted seeds inside

Day Four:
The final day was spent making signs for our newly planted seeds and plants so we know where everything is supposed to be!

Getting outside, getting muddy, finding all sorts of bugs and strange plants whilst learning about how things grow seemed to really connect with a some of our regular children. Although he was working to a fairly specific brief and outcome, Matthew helped the children get really involved with all aspects of the process by being very open in the way he led the sessions. The children were always going to him with questions about the things they had found whilst digging or about the things they were planting, it certainly felt like a collaborative project.

We very much hope that because they were so involved in the whole process they will feel a sense of ownership over the allotments and help us to maintain them from now on. Since the workshops the children have been helping to water the plants and do a little weeding so hopefully we'll have some lovely crops to harvest over the coming months which they can take home.

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