We were delighted to support the Wycombe Community GROW project at Mapledean Nursery and Children’s Centre’s ‘Ground Force’ volunteer day.
Volunteers from Mapledean Nursery & Children’s Centre staff, parents, children and Quadron idverde’s Horticulture Development Manager, Andy Robinson, engaged in a community ‘Ground Force’ day on Tuesday 8th March in support of the Wycombe Community GROW project.
Community GROW is an initiative across High Wycombe that commenced during 2015. It started as an idea at the Wycombe Children and Young People’s Local Partnership Board, which is supported by Buckinghamshire County Council. Many partner organisations that attend the Local Board identified a need to address issues around healthy eating and cooking and reducing obesity particularly among children.
Research has shown there are significant links between healthy eating, physical activity and better health and well-being outcomes for adults and children. In addition, reducing obesity levels and improving people’s health contributes significantly to lower NHS costs later in life.
The project, led by former Council employee Sheila Bees, aims to encourage local communities, and in particular children, to learn about healthy eating through growing their own produce.
A small working group was established under the Local CYP Partnership Board to develop and oversee the initiative, attended by local stakeholders on an entirely voluntary basis. The project supports the aims and priorities of many national and local strategies and plans, including the national ‘5 Ways to Well Being’ and, locally in Buckinghamshire, the Healthy Eating Strategy, the Children and Young People’s Plan, and the Child and Family Poverty Strategy.
idverde (via its subsidiary company Quadron Services) has been in attendance at meetings to provide guidance on horticultural matters, as well as assist in sourcing materials for projects and lending tools and PPE for practical sessions. The volunteer day at Mapledean Nursery & Children’s Centre was the first scheme to get off the ground, with Head Teacher Sue Skinner taking the initiative to plant six new fruit trees and install raised beds, to be used for growing vegetables.
Sue and her Forest School gardener, Vicky, were joined by Quadron idverde’s Horticultural Development Manager, Andy Robinson, and Community GROW’s Dave Furze to lead the day’s activities, with the day commencing with a health and safety briefing and explanation of the task.
Following a brief snow flurry, the team began by splitting into three groups; one to tackle the tree planting, one to make the wooden raised beds and the final group tackling the large mound of topsoil that needed to be wheelbarrowed to the correct location.
Following a short break for lunch, the team reconvened to finish the tasks. Finally the remaining top soil was wheelbarrowed into the new raised beds. All that was left to do was reflect on a hugely successful first project for the Community GROW initiative.
Quadron idverde Horticultural Development Manager, Andy Robinson, said: “Today’s event at Mapledean Nursery & Children’s Centre has been hugely enjoyable. Its success is testament to Sheila Bees’ commitment to the project and Sue Skinner’s drive to make it happen here at Mapledean. It has been a privilege to be involved in the Community GROW project’s pilot scheme and we hope this is only the beginning of many more days, helping local children to learn about growing and nutrition.”
Community GROW’s Sheila Bees said: “We’re off!! Thank you Mapledean for being first to embrace the GROW ethos of ‘just give it a go and have fun’. Let’s get planting now!”
Mapledean Head Teacher Sue Skinner said: “The ground force day was a huge success. It was fantastic to see children, parents, staff and partners of the Nursery & Children’s Centre all coming together to support the development of this project. The children will really benefit from growing their own fruit and vegetables. They will learn first-hand about where food comes from and the importance of healthy eating. Thank you to Andy Robinson and the Wycombe GROW project for all their help and guidance.”