Allotment playgroup- update and evaluation.

The education space at the allotment playgroup has been growing and developing rapidly throughout 2017. I’ve held 44 sessions over the spring, summer and autumn months. I’ve worked with around 30 family groups each friday over two sessions. Its been great fun. The willow den is really taking shape now but it has been plagued with wasps for the last few weeks and out-of-bounds!

This year the kids decided to plant lots of strawberries, herbs, beetroot, tomatoes, carrot, runner beans and sweet peas. We’ve also harvested apples, soft fruit, potatoes and courgettes. The children have been involved in every stage, from sowing seeds, to weeding, watering, harvesting, washing and preparing produce and of course eating it!

Its our last session this week before the winter break. I’ll be sad not to spend my Fridays at the allotment anymore, but I’ll be using the free time to try to complete my permaculture diploma before summer 2018.

Evaluation

The aim of this Permaculture Diploma design was very straightforward;

“To enlarge the fenced-in area of the community allotment and re-design the space where the Muddy Boots allotment playgroup meets”

I thought I should evaluate the success of my design by looking at my planned actions  against what I actually did.

  1. Enlarge the space with new fencing. YES 
  2. Have a tarp extension onto the gazebos and easy fixings for rainy day. YES but the fixing was not very easy as the tarp was multi use so couldn’t have permanent ropes attached. 
  3. Re-do the willow den – YES its taking really well
  4. Add bench and log seating inside the willow den. YES
  5. Add a wildlife area behind the shed. NO I didn’t get around to this and the neighbour was not keen on allowing ‘weeds’ to grow there and sprayed weed killer in the area – I was very sad and annoyed but for the sake of happy relationships at the allotment I had to let this go. 
  6. Add a blackboard and painting board. YES this worked well
  7. Changed the size of the sandpit to make it more affordable to fill up. YES but it does need re-filling every term and costs me £20-£0 each time so I need to factor this into my budgets. 
  8. Make a new mud kitchen out of pallets and donated kitchen items. YES but the sink only lasted 1 year and the whole kitchen will need replacing soon. 
  9. Add a removable canopy over the den area near the fence. YES I used this for shade on hot days and for a play space. I’ve just been donated some outdoor bean bags, so these will be added to the area for a quite reading and snuggling area. 
  10. Add climbers to the fence. YES lots added and establishing well.
  11. Add soft fruit to the triangular bed. YES added and establishing slowly.
  12. Add a mud pit. YES the kids adore this (parents not so keen!)
  13. Re bark the paths and area around the mud kitchen. YES but will need refreshing every year. 
  14. Add signage to explain what the planting and play features are all about. YES but again will need replacing/ updating every year due to watering.
  15. Add a waterplay area. NO, I did do waterplay and gathered lots of kit for this but did not set up a specific space for this. I’d love to create a water will in the future for pouring and collecting activities. 
  16. To allow more people to attend the group each week, thus making it more profitable and sustainable. YES this definately happened. The morning session was fully booked all year and althought the afternoon sessions were always quieter, they attracted enought people to make them worthwhile. 

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