Oxford Community Garden
Oxford Community Garden
This is a thriving environmental community hub that is located in the heart of Longbenton estate and is led by local people. The Oxford Community Garden provides a range of opportunities aimed at improving the quality of life for residents living in the area. Justice Prince is working with local people and other key stakeholders including private and public sectors to develop an innovative response to local issues and build upon community assets in the area. The Oxford Community Garden has been developed over several years with local people at the heart of its development throughout. Justice Prince alongside local residents has been negotiating a long term lease, at an affordable cost, from the local authority in order to attract investment and develop the site into a thriving sustainable horticultural centre of excellence.
We are delighted that all the hard work, commitment and tenacity has paid off, North Tyneside Council have agreed appropriate terms and conditions for a 25 year lease which will commence 2017.
What’s on offer?
The Oxford Community Garden provides bespoke opportunities for those suffering multi-faceted complex needs which often act as barriers to participation in local and wider society. The range of services and activities offer wide ranging opportunities both formal and informal for people to “try out” Although the Oxford Community Garden is in the heart of the estate it is very tranquil, it’s a small oasis that shields people from their busy, stressful daily routine. One volunteer described his time on the garden as “time out” a safe place where he could re-charge, have time to think and plan before acting.
Another said “it keeps me off the drink all day, until 4ish anyway, I’d normally just drink myself daft all day if I didn’t come here”
There are currently 20 volunteers of mixed abilities working on the community garden and on average work around 150 hours per week. We provide appropriate support to those who are vulnerable which has led to increased self-confidence, well-being, enthusiasm and motivation. Volunteering is a way in which new relationships can develop and link people into supportive social networks.
Mental and physical disabilities/difficulties
Those facing daily battles find solace on the community garden as they work alongside others who share similar experiences; peer mentoring has proven very successful particularly with this those suffering from poor mental health and those who have a history of alcohol and drug misuse.
There are eight community garden representatives/volunteers who work alongside Justice Prince to ensure all issues that crop up on a day-to-day basis are dealt with quickly and effectively. Prompt action avoids issues festering and conflict emerging. Justice Prince are committed to enabling local people take control in this case by exploring, identifying and developing local responses to local/project issues.
The community garden provides a great opportunity for informal learning a huge amount of work is carried out through peer support. Volunteers demonstrate growing techniques including, seeding, and pricking off, planting, watering, feeding; cropping and how to prepare produce to cook healthy wholesome food. Sharing home grown, home-made food is always a big success.
Both informal and formal training takes place on the community garden. Justice Prince in partnership with North Tyneside Council Adult Learning Alliance deliver Horticultural Level 1 Award, and up to a Level 2 Certificate and Diploma-City and Guilds is the awarding body.
Through our strong links within the community we have delivered a range of projects that have been very successful. This work has led to numerous initiatives that link wider community groups to each other. Balliol Primary School enjoy sessions on the community garden learning new skills and gaining a deeper understanding of environmental issues.
Patchwork Garden project
Funded by the Peoples Health Trust has amazing potential to develop into a sustainable enterprise providing training, volunteering, jobs, work experience raising funds that can reinvested into the community project. This project is aimed at vulnerable tenants struggling to maintain their gardens as part of the solution to this problem Justice Prince staff and Environmental Champions transform these gardens into manageable “growing plots” and/or provide an affordable garden maintenance scheme.
Justice Prince CIC alongside our partners the Peoples Health Trust are committed to long term positive change-to support communities to have greater control enabling them to build a community that is a great place to grow, live, work and age.
We aim to build upon the solid foundations already developed on the Oxford Community Garden. The Peoples Health Trust have agreed to provide funds that will enable Justice Prince CIC to purchase a modular building that will be developed as a learning space alongside a community café. The café will provide an opportunity for further training and employment whilst providing affordable nutritious food using produce grown on the garden.
We will also develop a “mini market garden” with produce grown on site and sold to generate income that can be reinvested.