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Stewarts Road Edible Playground


This project developed an unused area of an existing adventure playground into a 'healthy space', offering activities such as a gardening club, growing edible plants in pots and containers and establishing healthy walk groups, all of which help bring people together to enjoy their local area.



  • create a healthy active space for local young people to use
  • engage young people to take up healthy living and eating activities
  • encourage young people to be more active and improve their local environment
  • help local young people make better choices about what they eat, take an interest in where food comes from, and try new things

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Larkhall was identified as lacking in opportunities and access to healthy food and green space as part of the wider Well London selection process.

Groundwork then identified a site on an existing adventure playground that had the potential to be developed as a green space the area was easy to access, a suitable area for growing, and a blank canvas with lots of potential as a growing space. The adventure playground is run as part of a local charity, Springfield Community Flats.

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Groundwork worked with a landscape architect to develop a master plan for the site, using the ideas, designs, issues and concerns, dreams and aspirations provided by local children, young people and adults via a series of workshops. Volunteers and youth workers were also involved in these workshops. A final vote helped to decide the order of work and priorities.

One of the issues raised by the young people at the start of the project was how unsafe the space was, with exposed drains, overflowing ponds, dumped rubbish, a muddy and slippery entrance to the site, and no steps to the new cabin. Access to the site was just a muddy path, so one of the first things to be done was to put in a new path, with decking up to the door of the cabin to provide disabled access.

The final design was split into three sections around the cabin that was already on site: a vegetable garden and relaxation space, a pond area, and decking and an entrance. Contractors were brought in to do the work and realise the young peoples' ideas. The aim was to structure the space so that there would be room to grow plants, fruit and vegetables, but also so that further improvements could be made in the future by the young people themselves with the support of youth workers from the adventure playground.

Weekly gardening sessions were set up and Groundwork's Community Gardener, Mark Patterson, now runs these between April and October, with monthly sessions between November and March when there is less work to be done. During the summer these operate as a weekly drop-in afterschool club. A hen house and bee hive have been brought into the site which are very popular and a series of cooking classes were run. There are also occasional educational trips and extra activities during holidays.

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Construction of new paths and decking on the site made it much safer for young people, parents and other users, and much more accessible. The site is safe, clear of rubbish, and the risk of flooding has been removed.

Local children now care much more about the space and the local environment. They are interested in trying the vegetables they have grown and are much more aware of issues such as food miles and healthy eating choices.

Chickens have been a great success and eggs are sold to local residents. 5 young people now have beekeeping certificates and their own suits, and will be able to look after the bees on an ongoing basis as well as selling honey. The money raised from eggs and honey will be used to cover the cost of future residential weekends, and to provide new games equipment for their play area and extra gardening equipment. This empowers the young people to improve their space and gives them some insight into social enterprise.

The Edible Playground site continues to evolve all the time. There are plans to increase the number of chickens and the children are already building a new chicken coop in preparation - more chickens will mean they can increase sales of eggs to local people.

The exit strategy has involved training the adventure playground staff and some local volunteers to manage the garden, including the hens and bees, on a long term basis. There are also plans to link in with the Well London volunteering project and the food coop to increase sales of eggs and honey. A management plan for the garden has also been produced for the staff. Funding for a long term gardener is also being explored.

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As the project is still running, no formal evaluation has been carried out, but Groundwork keeps a register of who attends each week and a photographic record of activities. A video diary has also been created and the young people who have participated will be interviewed for this. Groundwork are also working on an exit strategy for the project and how it is going to be evaluated.

The practical activities worked well, such as construction of the pond and introduction of the chicken house, hens and bees, which grabbed the attention of many children. Field trips to farms have also been very popular. There are over 250 children registered at the adventure playground who benefit from the improvements to the site, and around 40 have participated directly in the gardening project and with the hens and bees.

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  • Get young people involved at the start and give them power over decision making
  • This project built on the existing community infrastructure already in place through the adventure playground. Building up local activities can play a great role in strengthening existing centres' role in the community, and help a project successfully engage with local people.

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This is an Animalcarpet site, Design by Lakesneil