Urban Wild Places
Grow wild things, grow food, grow amazing flowers, grow vegetables and herbs you've never heard of before.
We love our urban communities because We Can Grow in the smallest and obscure places!
What's Urban Wild Places about?
In partnership with Islington Council, we want to improve Islington's parks and green spaces, and encourage more local people to have fun, enjoy and make better use of them.
During 2014/15, we will be collaborating with Islington Council to transform Archway Park, Biddestone Road Open Space, and Seward Street Playground.
At Urban Wild Places we know how important being in the outdoors is, this belief is supported by several studies looking at the impact outdoor play has on health and wellbeing.
- Children currently spend only half as much time outdoors as they did 30 years ago. ('Sowing the Seeds' 2011)
- A study by the University of Essex found that where children are allowed more 'free-range' play increased lifespans.
- 'The less children play outdoors, the less they learn to cope with the risk and challenges of life ahead" National Childhood Study (National Trust, 2012)
- Even small 'doses' of nature can have a positive benefit, with studies showing that as little as five minutes of 'green exercise' improves mood and self esteem. (Sowing the Seeds, 2011)
Urban Wild Places aims to encourage the use and improvement of urban parks, as well as to establish estate-based gardening projects and the use of pop-up parks in order to get more people outside, builiding communities around these spaces and learning about the great impacts the outdoors has!
Our Islington Gro-Mobile campaign!
Urban Wild Places have succesfully crowdfunded to buy a milkfloat, that we are going to turn into the Islington Gro-Mobile, a mobile potting shed and garden classroom! The Gro-Mobile will empower communities to transform unloved spaces into on-the-doorstep veg patches and wildlife havens. We're just awaiting delivery, so look out for the Islington Gro-Mobile around Islington soon!
Spot us? Share on social media using #IslingtonGroMobile!
Our 'Trail Blazer' programme in partnership with Islington's fabulous Community Hubs Network is working with local communities to create unique 'living learning spaces'. This means that, we are aiming for 13 brand-new outdoor learning environments that local communities will develop, design learning activities around, manage, and enjoy!
Our Environmental Summer Schools are especially for families, children and young people who will take part in free activities. You can become Environmental Detectives and get involved in the Wild About... programme of activities - covering everything from urban foraging to bushcraft, den building to wildlife spotting, and food growingto camp-fire cooking. Also we will support local families in creating their own Wild Urban Walks - creating spotter guides, taking photos, and keeping a record of what they see along the way, so your stay-at-home summer holiday will be filled with active, outdoor fun! The photo below is from one of the sessions!
We had a fantastic turnout for this year’s Environmental Summer School, a series of free weekly workshops. In partnership with Islington Green Spaces aimed at children 5-11 and their families, the summer school attracted not just the kids but also mums, dads, carers, and grandparents to Whittington Park for a fun-packed morning of exploring and creating. Thanks to a beekeeper and his observation hive, we learned all about bees and even had a go at the ‘waggle dance’, the way bees communicate. We pond-dipped and hunted for bugs, then made our own frogs and dragonflies. Drawing on the natural resources of the park, families also worked together to create amazing sculptures, construct mini dens, and cook over a campfire. We met over 160 children and their grown ups at summer school, and it was wonderful to see their curiosity and skills develop in the great outdoors. Parents reported an increase in confidence and interest in the outdoors after the sessions, one family even decided “to build a den in the park and live in it!” The summer school will run again next year, but in the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for more of our wild family events with the changing seasons.
The Pod will give 12 local young people an opportunity to turn their Urban Wild Places ideas into community businesses and social action projects. You will work with other young people and specialists to develop your ideas - so, if you have a brilliant Urban Wild Places idea, we want you! It doesn't matter if you're an individual, a school, a local youth group or community group, we'd like to hear from you.
As part of The Pod, 12 young people planted an orchard of plum, apple and cherry trees at Hilldrop Community Centre in October which they entitled Wardchard after the name of their team as part of NCS The Challenge. They made a rap about their planting, have a listen here!
This short film made by young people from NCS The Challenge is all about growing healthy food at the Andover Estate Plant Nursery then cooking it in the Andover Community Centre kitchen with Community Kitchens. Enjoy...
Pop Up Parks...if we cannot get you to a park, we will bring one to you. If you would like a Pop Up Park to feature as part of your estate-based fun-day or street party let us know - we'll try and make it possible for you, for a morning, afternoon, or a full day!
We have run Estate-Based Projects in two Islington Estates, the Harvist Estate, and the Bemerton Estate.
In early 2015 funding was awarded from Ward Councillors to establish a new community garden on the Harvist Estate, adjacent to Hind House and Octopus were appointed to consult residents. Over 100 households responded to the consultation and designed a ‘pizza garden’. Urban Wild Places have run a series of planting workshops, where families have not only grown sweetcorn, tomatoes and herbs but have also learnt about natural pest controllers, built a bug hotel and a mini-wormery. 30 residents have taken part in the activities with tremendous enthusiasm, taking a real interest in the progress of their plants.
The workshops are set to continue for a year, until residents feel confident enough to take on the maintenance of the garden, creating a beautiful space for residents and wildlife alike. The focus this autumn and winter will be on planting bulbs and spring flowers, as well as the importance of bird feeding throughout the winter months.
Since 2013, the Bemerton Estate has been home to an established flower garden and collection of food growing beds. In June 2014 Urban Wild Places agreed to work with residents to offer a wider programme of wildlife and nature based activities as well as providing support to their gardening. Our joint events have included building a bug hotel, making bird feeders and a mini-beast hunt.
Residents have been actively involved, reporting their enjoyment and “satisfaction of growing my own things”. Siobhan, who was instrumental in starting the gardening group, continues to organize regular gardening sessions and is keen to engage more residents across the estate.
We've got a lot to do over the next three years, so if you want to volunteer on this exciting new project, whether you can give us a couple of hours or a regular slot each week, then do get in touch. We are recruiting volunteers now!
Use #urbanwildplaces on Twitter or Facebook to show us how creative you've been to create or improve your local urban wild places!
Our Walk on the Wild Side Creative Writing Walks have been happening all through the summer, here's a poem from one walk that lasted four hours because everyone was having so much fun!
We wondered far and wide to find
what little creatures that lurked behind
that hide the little beasts we call
and spiders big and small and such
big and small
but they don't scare me at all
We wondered in the wind and rain
until the sunshine rose again
and cracking through the leaves so high
we watched as birds began to fly
across the sky
and into the blue
where soon we were to hot to move
and finding shade below a tree
we thought of all the things we'd seen
the games we'd played
the trips and falls
but never did we mind at all
and as the day started to lose its light
we wished that we could stay all night