Helping out with a Community Schools Project

This Saturday I am winding my way down to Margate (you have to sing that line Chaz n Dave stylee!), in Kent to help out on a fabulous project which aims to bring together local school kids and older people and develop community cohesion.

The project is called the Quartet Community Allotment Garden which is part of a broader inititiave called Quartet in the Community, “a partnership of Margate schools and children’s centres, working to improve the lives of children and the community[1]”.   The allotment project is the brainchild of Nicola Wood, a senior extended schools coordinator at Hartsdown Technology College, a secondary school in Margate.  The partnership received £3,000 from the Kent Criminal Justice Board, “as part of a national programme to use ill gotten gains, confiscated from crooks, to fund worthwhile community projects[1]“.

The money is being used to tackle the problem of youths loitering in the streets outside the homes of older people, causing friction and antisocial behaviour. A new group will be set up to bring older members of the allotment and the local community together with young people to work together at the allotment, pass on their knowledge and build relationships. The idea has been backed by the local Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)…who believe this scheme will help to bridge the gap between the generations in the area.[2]

The Community Allotment Garden is now developing nicely.  Over several weekends, local young people have worked together with members of an existing over 50’s gardening group to get the allotment going.

So where do I come in?  Well a few weeks ago Nicola stumbled upon this blog and asked if I will like to help facilitate the building of a clay oven on the plot.  I just couldn’t say no!  I really love the idea of the project and so will be spending the next three weekends on-site helping the group to build their own oven.  I think it will be great fun and if it helps to bring these seemingly disparate groups of people (the old and young) closer together then that’s a fabulous bonus.

Last weekend Nicola and her team of helpers started the oven project by building the plinth and oven floor following instructions from this blog.  On Saturday we will be puddling lots of clay/sand in order to build the first layer and, if we have time, the oven entrance and chimney.  The final two weekends will then be dedicated to adding insulation and building the final layer, hopefully leaving time to fire the oven up for a transgenerational pizza party!

I’ll be posting some pictures and updates as we go along.  Keep your fingers crossed for fair weather!!