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Project Rewild WP is go. First - planning and grant applications!

Hackney Outdoors CIC is working with William Patten Primary School to help it develop its playgrounds to be more wildlife friendly. This in turn will make it easier to get the school's 430 children closer to nature day to day, as well as offer more nature-based activities for the schoolchildren to get involved in on site, such as developing and managing habitats, gardening for wildlife, herbalism, composting, water recycling and more.

Working with amazing local biodiversity charity Growing Green London, we have developed initial plans to develop several existing areas of the playground, including several existing neglected or underused borders, and which replace astroturf with borders or gardens, so we can start to budget accurately to plan and apply for grants. We expect the work (fully listed below) in worst case to cost between 20-25,000 and hope to raise half of this via grants and the remainder from the community. The plans have been reviewed and signed off by the school's senior leadership team as well as the PTFA.

We hope to:

  • Remove 165m2 astroturf from the site

  • Trim existing trees for health and bring in light

  • Plant native hedge trees such as elder, rose and rowan

  • Plant ivy & other climbers for privacy and air quality improvements

  • Replant existing borders to create woodland and wildflower/ grassland areas

  • Create wildlife habitats throughout, eg rock, log, leaf habitats, bird and bug borders, deadhedges

  • Build a raised mini pond

  • Replant an existing border to create a community pollinator friendly medicinal herb garden 

  • Build a permanent wooden outdoor learning shelter with a roof and community space, for all season class use, Nature Club and Eco Team use and community use

  • Create a new mini pollinator-friendly sensory garden space for smell, sight, hearing, sound, taste

  • Create a new mini messy nature play space including a mud kitchen and potting area

  • Create a new wildflower lawn and mini-orchard

  • Build in new water recycling/water reuse facilities and composting

  • Improve (possibly move) the existing Edible Garden to allow more vegetable and fruits to grow in better light

The image below shows our emerging plans for one of the sites to be improved, a 12.5 x 12.5 space currently covered in astroturf.

So far Hackney Outdoors CIC has applied for three grants on the school's behalf, one from Seed Sistas to fund the proposed medicinal herb garden, one from Groundwork London (the Our Space Award) and one from Hubbub (the Nature Hubs Fund). We were unsuccessful for the Seed Sistas grant, but are still waiting to hear back about the Our Space and Nature Hubs Awards. We should hear back in February/March 2024 and will update you here and on our Instagram!

We intend to consult with the children to finalise the plans and how they can get involved, likely in February 2024, but have already collected feedback from the school's Eco Team children. Their comments include the below:

  • “I think the changes would make the school environmentally friendly and give wildlife more places to live.”

  • “It would mean more insects and birds come to the playground and they would have somewhere nice to live.” 

  • “You could learn about different plants and their smells.”

  • “You learn about the uses of different plants and herbs and know how to use them properly.” 

  • “You could learn more about which environments are suitable for which creatures.” 

  • “You could learn about how to do gardening and what things grow well in different places.”

  • “I think an orchard is a good idea because it would be good to have apples growing that we can eat.  We could have them as part of our lunch!”

  • “I think the fire pit is quite a good idea because you can learn about fire but be safe at the same time.” 

  • “I like the idea of a sensory garden because it looks fun and really nice and you can enjoy the different smells and touch the plants.”

  • “(We could do more) activities based around nature and it would give children more things to do and to be excited about.” 

  • “It would make the playground more eco-friendly.”

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