We run a community-focused, outdoor learning and growing group in the heart of Margate – one of the most socially deprived areas in the South East of England. Our allotment offers a safe, outdoor environment for local families and aims to encourage curiosity, discovery and growth in a natural space. Since acquiring the allotment in September, we have reached over 200 families with our free “Stay and Play” sessions. Our groups are centred around improved early learning outcomes for children (including the critical areas of speech, communication, language, social & emotional development). We are passionate about coming alongside families to offer support and guidance where needed. Following a fantastic first 6 months, we would like to develop the allotment further through a range of areas that will not only provide young people with a valuable hands-on experience, to plant, grow and harvest their own food, but will also benefit biodiversity and encourage wildlife in the local area.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
We believe all children should be given opportunities to connect with their local, natural environment and have a chance to engage in purposeful, developmentally appropriate creative learning experiences. We want to ignite the imagination, spark creativity, promote wellbeing, breathe in the fresh air and fill young hearts and minds with the beauty and wonder of nature. It is our understanding that there is a growing evidence-base supporting the value of safe, outdoor, out-of-home play opportunities for young children and their families, which encourages secure attachment and increases positive learning outcomes. Research shows the huge benefits of playing outdoors, especially in those early, formative years. Being outside and free to explore and play, supports a child's social and emotional skills. Our sessions also provide an opportunity to get little hands dirty through gardening, enhancing sensory development, promoting healthy eating and encouraging responsibility and patience.
Steps to get it done:
Moving forward, we have some exciting plans for the Forget-Me-Not allotment. Not only do we want to continue to provide a safe, outdoor space for families, but we want to reach other groups in the community too. By further developing our growing area , we want to offer this wonderful space to local schools, (we already have an SEN school regularly visiting) and to also partner with the NHS, offering social prescribing - a 'natural' community-based solution to help combat social isolation, anxiety and support resilience. We would also like to be able to offer free, stay and play sessions for local, refugee families, forming important relationships and learning about different cultures in our community. Our outdoor kitchen project will help us to host and facilitate community events, where we invite our users to come and enjoy our outdoor space, being able to communally eat the produce we have grown together!
About the space
The Forget-Me-Not Allotment
Thanet District Council