A West London Scout group developed a rundown outside area of land to be used for growing foodstuffs and training purposes, with help from a Small Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation.
Pinner and Headstone District Scouts, who provide Scouting experience for 6-25 year olds in North Harrow took on the area of land in 2010. The plot, located adjacent to their other allotment area, was extremely overgrown, having not been cultivated for about 20 years! Through a lot of hard work, the Scout group cleared the wild area and, after building a bridge across a small stream, linked it to the rest of the allotment.
Since the development began, the Scouts have managed to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables including carrots, potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes and strawberries! The area is also used for training purposes including fire-lighting and outdoor cooking, using knives and saws, knot tying exercises, and developing their appreciation and respect for the natural world.
Scout Leader Derek Paterson said, “These days, many of the young people joining Scouts appear to have limited experience of the natural world. As an example, three Scouts on an orienteering exercise in a woodland area near us had no idea what a mole-hill was, and a young Scout on a hike in 2012 had never eaten a blackberry. We have seen slow worms and hedgehogs on the allotment and even a woodpecker in one of the large trees. Anything we can do in Scouting to widen the scope of knowledge about nature and the environment is particularly valuable.”
The £500 grant from the Foundation enabled the Scouts to purchase a new shed and gardening equipment. The new kit, combined with the spectacular weather over the summer of 2013 enabled the group to be more spontaneous in their use of the training area, and more exploratory in their home cultivation. The group has since planted a selection of fruit trees in the area in an effort to attract further wildlife to the area.
Grants Officer for West London, Katie Burton said, “It’s fantastic that this Scout Group has managed to use the outside area so effectively. In London, it can often be difficult for Scout groups to get suitable practical training but the Pinner and Headstone contingent have achieved this resourcefully.”
To find out more about Scouting and your nearest Scout group, visit www.scouts.org.uk
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