A Social Enterprise for community gardening, growing and access to nature for all.
Landscape design, build and maintenance for public and community spaces, schools, nurseries, & private gardens.
A Spring in our Step
Spring's here, the clocks are about to turn back and Father Nature is pausing to celebrate our successes in 2016 and keep you up to date with our plans so far for the growing season ahead in 2017.
As a Social Enterprise we hold over half our profits back for the benefit of the communityso we're looking forward to growing more people projects as well as green spaces this year. We'd love to hear from you if you need help transforming a space - whether it's a street or any public space, a school or nursery, a community project, or even your own garden. We're also on hand for sustainable gardening education: teaching, workshops and training for young and old.
If you run or own a business and you like Father Nature's work, then please get in touch. Let's find a way to work together to help transform an area for the horticultural benefit of the community. Perhaps you'd like to be part of our Adopt a Planter scheme?
Needless to say the past few months have been incredibly busy and with all this demand for our services we've expanded the Father Nature team, helping combat local unemployment on the way. Welcome our new team members Willwho has a creative eye combined with loving attention to detail, & Andreaswho's a demon with the wood sander.
Since October last year Father Nature has been working hard on Lambeth Council's new Our Streetsinitiative to tackle fly tipping, bad parking and other antisocial behaviour in Streatham using our 'Horticultural interventions'.
Right now we're nearly half way through the build of 50+ drought resistant planters to brighten and clean up Streatham's streets. In late Spring we'll be holding on site Planting Parties like the one above on Wellfield Road where we go to work with local residents sharing our know-how to get some more community growing on the Streatham map.
Residents of Vauxhall and Kennington may have noticed the new look cycle lanes onVauxhall Street. Father Nature worked on the Lambeth Council Cycle Routesprogramme to create lanes which were both practical, sustainable and attractive.
Cyclists can now pedal along accompanied by delicious wafts of scent from lavender, thyme and the sight of winter roses.
Outside Granton Primary School in Streatham, pupils are now welcomed to school each day with a maginficent rain garden at the gates. This work was part of a programme with Lambeth SuDs engineers to create a new breed of water harvesting planter to address local flooding with our 'horticultural interventions'.
Father Nature combined the project with the chance for a spot of horticultural education with a Planting party for the pupils as they helped bed in the palms and other hardy plants.
This is just one of several schemes where Father Nature has partnered with Lambeth Council to find green solutions to inner city environmental challenges.
We've had a super busy 2016 in Schools and nurseries as part of our mission to get London kids playing & learning outside, and growing food. We've transformed playgrounds and backyards around London into growing spaces and outdoor classrooms including Boutcher Primary in Southwark,Stockwell Primary, Peter Hills in Rotherhithe as well as more schools in Brixton and Clapham.
We've also added a superb wobbly bridge at Ritchard Atkins School on Brixton Hill, a new shed and mud kitchen for outdoor learning in Myatt's Fields Park for our partners Natural Thinkers. We achieved a complete playground makeover for Wellingtons Nursery in Balham, as well as helped Corpus Christi School in Brixton create a new wild area. We'll be kicking off again soon at Loughborough Primary School near Myatt's Fields Park.
If your school would like to expand or improve your outdoor learning areas then please emailus - we can help you with raising the funds too (see our website: Outdoor Classrooms - Can Our School get Funding? section). We are particularly interested to hear from any secondary schools who would like to develop school growing projects.
Transforming the grounds of Boutcher Primary in Southwark was one of our largest school projects last year. Both pupils and parents were keen to make their school a Community Growing Centre and Father Nature finsihed the two month build of raised beds, pond and outdoor classroom with a hugely well attended community planting day aided by teacher Hannah Ewens (far right in the picture).
Father Nature was called in by Stockwell Primary School who had a plan to turn their outside space (top left) into a Community Growing Centre. Although space was tight you can see the transformation two weeks later (top right). Within days the kids were getting stuck in planting up the herbs and veg!
Father Nature has been working with Richard Atkins School off Brixton Hill over the last few years to create a playground that ticks all the boxes for Ofted's call for outdoor learning. Our latest addition is a wobbly bridge to develop the pupils' balance. Father Nature carpenter Mr Badjie looks rightfully proud.
Father Nature's mission to bring nature and outdoor play to all London's residents continues, even for the very young. Last Autumn, Wellingtons Nursery in Balham challenged us to turn their concrete nursery yard into an adventure playground with raised beds so the toddlers could get active outside and learn about growing. In February we put the final touches to the work and the kids are loving it. Our partners Urban Growth will be offering the children gardening workshops down the line.
Last Autumn Father Nature helped Corpus Christi School in Brixton to develop their outdoor learning curriculum. As you walk down Brixton Hill you can now see a brand new wild area in front of the church for the children to explore nature, make dens and get their hands in the earth.
With funding from London CLC, Father Nature and our partner Louise Whitham atPlant Artgot together with pupils at City Heights E-Act Academy in December for a series of workshops to explore the principles of garden design and come up with a vision for the development of a school sky garden. We were wowed by their creativity!
Education about nature is a big part of our mission. In January, Father Nature's director Crispin Swayne partnered with Stanley's Film Club in Norwood to host a Q & A about family life and getting outdoors alongside a screening of Viggo Mortensen's new nature v nurture classic 'Captain Fantastic'. Crispin also set the audience a nature trail quiz and the lucky winner received a free Father Nature garden consultation.
If you have a community growing or outdoor project in mind and need funding, take a look at our list of funding sources on the Father Nature community growing page.
Benefit nature AND your community
Your patch of green will soon be telling you it needs a makeover, or at least, a spring clean up. Choosing a social enterprise like Father Nature for your landscape design or maintenance means you'll not only have a lovely green space but you'll also feel great knowing that over 50% of Father Nature's profits are held for community investment. This allows us to give our time or resources free or at low cost to a growing number of community projects each year.
At the end of last summer Father Nature joined forces with Myatt's Fields Park, Brixton to put on an overnight mini camping festival for over 75 low income and local families. With a ton of workshops, storytelling, tents and all food thrown in, it was a massive undertaking. Not least was the fundraising through crowdfunding which was both nerve wracking and exhausting! However, we were helped by a huge team of volunteers and support from just about everywhere including the London Regiment and South West London Army Cadets. To find out all about the event and watch the video, visit our website page:Sleepover.
While we were able to raise the £20,000 necessary in 2016 for the event, it would not have been possible without the help of the GLA Regeneration team, and CLS Holdings plc who helped us over the financial finishing line.
Going forward, we need to secure a grant or firm advance funding for the Sleepover to survive, so if you can help us make the Sleepover happen in 2017 or 2018, please email us.
Late last summer Father Nature worked with a team of volunteers from Lloyds Bank CSR to transform the garden of a rest house in Streatham managed by St Michael's Fellowship, a charity that focuses on the welfare of young families needing support. It was a back breaking day but everyone left smiling with the garden looking totally shipshape and with lovely new raised beds for the tenants to grow veg and herbs.
St Luke's team Sam Beford and Virginia Nimarkoh enjoying the new space created by Mr Babatunde and Mr Badjie from Father Nature.
One of our most rewarding projects in 2016 was to help St Luke's Community Centre in Kennington turn its awkwardly shaped back yard into a place where the locals could get growing. It was a big challenge but Father Nature maximised every inch of available space, including the back wall. If you visit the centre now you'll see just how many plants, herbs and veg local residents have managed to pack into our planters.
Last Autumn we got together with the Friends of Windmill Gardens in Brixton to create a wonderful Harvest Festival day for the community. Father Nature brought in a truck load of hay bales to form a hayrick but it wasn't long before the kids made it their own personal soft play area! We've never had so much fun.
Those creative recycling champions at The Loop, Camberwell called in Father Nature to green their container workshop, with funding by Groundwork. Our partner Charlie Snead from Green Engineers came up with a great green roof design, and the final product, including new wheelchair access, was officially opened by Cllr Ian Wingfield and Kath Whittam, the Mayor of Southwark.
Father Nature have now built over 100 community planters that live on the streets and estates of Lambeth, such as these lovely specimens at Cato Rd pocket park in Clapham North. These need looking after - regular varnishing, repairing, adding fertiliser or new plants. We do it for the love of it but we'd also love a little support. You can adopt a planter for as little as £200 a year which will not only help us keep Lambeth green and growing, but also enable us to invest in more trainee gardeners. If you would like to get involved please email us.
If you have a project idea or are interested in volunteering for Father Nature then do please email us or catch us out and about in our trusty milk float 'Miles'.
Until then, wishing you all happy growing over the next few months!