at MoD Lyneham
In February 2016 we started work on the garden by fencing off an area, adjacent to the community centre, to create a secure outdoor space. We then built some raised beds for growing plants and vegetables, one of which was high enough to enable access by wheelchair users and older adults.
As we specialise in developing community spaces with communities, as the Community Centre was not then open to families, we decided to create the final elements of the design with mums & toddlers once the centre opened.
Each session will be based around a popular children's storybook, such as 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar', followed by outdoor craft, nature and gardening activities related to the story.
At the same time, the children's confidence and independence should grow and they should benefit from the physical exercise and improved well-being from connecting with their natural environment.
Through carrying out activities in the garden on a weekly basis throughout the year, it is hoped that the children and families will build relationships, and so promote community cohesion, whilst learning about nature, food, growing plants and cooking with the food they harvest.
Having worked with the Army Welfare Service previously, at 5 camps on Salisbury Plain, we were approached by them to find out if we could help them to develop a part of the garden for outdoor learning for toddlers. After seeing the area and discussing design ideas with the AWS, they gave us funding to create the garden.
At the end of 2015, following the re-development of RAF Lyneham, the Community Centre at MoD Lyneham was handed over to the Army Welfare Service for use as a welfare centre. The Community Centre has been the hub of welfare services at Lyneham for many years.
As many RAF families moved from Lyneham to Brize Norton, the married quarters were filled with Army families from throughout Wiltshire and the surrounding areas, many of them are therefore away from the serving personnel's workplace and main welfare support.
We therefore applied to the Army Benevolent Fund - The Soldiers' Charity for funding for outdoor learning sessions for mums & toddlers in the garden. The sessions will be delivered on a weekly basis and aim to get the mums and toddlers outdoors, physically active and connecting with Nature.
The Community Centre has a large garden which is enclosed by a new fence. However there was little in the garden except for a few trees and a bed of shrubs.
These were followed by the installation of a playhouse and a tool store for gardening tools and play equipment. A sand pit, mud kitchen, log circle, wood table and bench followed.
Installing a community space such as this community garden, is best done with members of the local community so that they engage with the garden. However, to ensure the viability and long-term sustainability of such spaces, it is best practice to deliver a series of sessions aimed at engaging local people in growing plants and food and developing the garden further.