Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000

Description

Just off the busy high street of Crofton Park lies a precious little space which we have been gradually clearing and weeding since 2014. We’ve succeeded in digging up three truck-loads (and counting) of buried rubbish (having suffered many years of fly-tipping) and have fought the persistent weeds. We‘ve succeeded in generating a lot of interest in the area and see new volunteers coming along all the time.

We now have bigger plans for our little space. We want to transform it into an oasis of calm and natural beauty - a sensory garden that will provide a unique recreational and outdoor learning space for all residents to reconnect with nature and their senses. It will be a tranquil retreat away from the noisy and polluted high street. Its unique location adjacent to Crofton Park Railway Station means that commuters will also be able to enjoy the garden while they wait for or alight from the trains, allowing them to de-stress, ready for their hectic journey that awaits or from the one they leave behind.

Our project will deliver on a number of neighbourhood health and wellbeing objectives. The fund will help us move our broad concept design forward by funding the works to achieve the following aims:

1. Create an edible sensory garden for wellbeing. A growing body of research demonstrates that daily exposure to nature reduces risk of ill-health, improves mental wellbeing, and increases child development. Our garden will:
a. provide a truly multi-sensory and restorative space filled with an explosion of colour, textures, tastes and scents.
b. provide an outdoor ‘tranquil’ space acting as a refuge from the traffic noise of Brockley Road.
c. promote healthy eating through cultivating fresh, organic fruit and vegetables.

2. Create a space for nature & learning. Reports demonstrate we are continuing to lose treasured species all the time. To ensure our neighbourhood develops sustainably, we want to guarantee the necessary provision for nature in our urban environment, not only for their benefit, but for ours too. Our garden will:
a. increase local biodiversity by creating four distinct ecosystem areas: our formal edible and physic garden with edible, useful and medicinal plant varieties; our forest garden for adventure learning; our meadow grassland for quiet contemplation; and our orchard with wildflower meadow for the bees. Each zone will have materials and plants selected to highlight the different sensory experiences.
b. provide a space for our ‘nature clubs’ and a place local schools can use for outdoor classroom events, to learn about: different plants with info on their origin, medicinal uses and health benefits; about food varieties and cultivation; natural habitats and biodiversity.

3. Provide an outdoor community social space. According to field studies conducted by the Human-Environment Research Lab, time spent in nature connects us to each other and the larger world. Social isolation is on the rise and this space will provide a meeting place for the elder groups as well as for those in the community who find it challenging to walk up the hilly nearby parks. Our garden will be a ‘pocket park’ in the heart of Crofton Park town centre that will:
a. provide seating space throughout the site for the community to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors throughout the day.
b. provide a meeting place for socialising, or just relaxing with a coffee in-hand.
c. provide a space for community events, activities and social gatherings
d. provide a community space for growing, for new social interactions to happen, and for learning experiences, generating a sense of place and community.

To achieve this vision, the fund will go towards both materials and labour, including: accessible pathways throughout, retention walls, new entrance, new plants and trees, new planting spaces, clearance removals, garden furniture, new boundary fencing, ground levelling, more planters, and more!

Crofton Park & Honor Oak Park Neighbourhood Forum

Location: Marnock Road, London SE4 1EU, United Kingdom

We are all proud of our achievement so far, volunteering together to transform the fly-tipping site into a usable garden. We continue to be encouraged by all the expressions of interest and ‘thank yous’ we receive from people who tell us that the garden brings on a smile each time they walk by.
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