The group behind the restoration of a derelict patch of land into a thriving forest garden for children have reflected on a successful first year, after waving goodbye to the final visiting group of 2020.
Staff and students from The Canterbury Centre were the final visitors of the year to the Eccles-based Cleavley Community Forest Garden, which opened its doors during Summer 2020 and is overseen by Incredible Education, a social enterprise specialising in health and wellbeing programmes through horticulture and forest school activities.
The garden provides opportunities for children to experience the outdoors and be close to nature as part of a school curriculum and has been restored by a group of volunteers, with support from Salford Council and NHS.
Ian Bocock, director and Horticulture Educational Lead, says children from across Salford have benefited from visits.
“It is great for their health and well-being but it also introduces children to nature,” he said.
“Obviously when we are looking at young people being the generation that are going to face a lot more regards to climate change, then it is a great way to get people, young people to embrace with nature.”
— IncrEdible Education (@IncrEdibleEdu) December 14, 2020
“I think it is important that people have a good understanding, going back to the climate and sustainability so, people know how to grow their own food, where their food is coming from.
“One of the most important things is about soil management. So, that we know how to look after out soil and how to look after the land, in a way that is sustainable.
“There is a thought out there that by some that we have only got 50 more harvests left in the ground. If we don’t do anything about the way we over-farmed and haven’t looked after the land that is 50 harvests, that is 50 years.”
so good to see everyone enjoying the great outdoors in a 'Covid Secure' 🌳Forest Garden🌳 30families 50+ children & 100+ individuals got to enjoy the Cleavley Community🌳Forest Garden🌳 with Friends of CCFG – specified time slot & an allocated table enabled us to feel festive🎅! pic.twitter.com/camp5tMMe6
— IncrEdible Education (@IncrEdibleEdu) December 5, 2020
Mr Bocock explained how it important for children to get outdoors: “Being outdoors and children getting to appreciate nature, understand nature, they then start to want to protect nature.
“They then have a conscience about the natural environment.”
The gardens opened in July 2020 and currently run a Garden Shop, open for the sale of Christmas Trees, wreaths and seasonal plants on the lead up to Christmas.
He said: “It’s an ongoing project and from there we operate a small garden centre and garden shop. The rationale behind having the small garden shop is, it’s another income stream so that we’re not wholly reliant on funding. We can generate our own income so that we can be sustainable as an organisation.”
“We do Forest School with local primary schools so, the children from a number of local primary schools come to the site as part of their curriculum education. So, as part of what they do through the school basically, it’s not like after school club, its still built into school timetables.”
Some more lovely images from Forest School 🔥 at Cleavley Community 🌳Forest Garden🌳 #salfordstories
While Covid-19 delayed the opening of the garden, Mr Bocock says there are more plans for 2021: “In the Spring of next year, when hopefully vaccines start to have some impact, that we are in a position to support our local community.”
“We hope to launch our community café in the Spring so that will be a nice thing to come off here. Can have a drink, and a cake, and a biscuit, and meet up with others.”
“This site, through us as Incredible Education who manage and look after it, it is a community asset. It’s for the local community to enjoy.”
Find more about Incredible Education on their Facebook page here.