Friday, 22 February 2013

Community Garden at Dean City Farm

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This week we had an invite to visit Dean City Farm just South of Wimbledon.  I was slightly uncertain whether it would hold enough interest for my 8 yr old. However my friend knows me well. ‘ They also have a community garden’ she says dangling a large carrot before me and knowing that I am never one to miss the chance to visit a garden.
The Farm is situated on land owned by the National Trust’s Morden Hall Park, but you enter the farm through a light industrial site.  It certainly is in an urban setting.  However this is just one side of the farm.  The other boundaries are the River Wandle (this is the river that gives Wandsworth its name) and the tram line which runs between Wimbledon and Croydon.  This tramline is a real added bonus for children as the trams are frequent,  a bit of a novelty in this part of London and great for spotting.



Morden Hall Park



Morden Hall Park
Our day started with a quick foray into Morden Hall Park.  What a delight  - a wander along the river Wandle, a foot crossing over the tramline and you then find yourself in a wetland environment  with bull rushes and reeds.  The Park also has a woodland play area and I’m assured by one of my companions that the rose garden has the most perfect stream for a hot summer's day paddle.  The children loved the woodland play area and all the bridges in the Park .  It was poo sticks galore.  There was even one little chappy with a huge supply of sticks on a bridge merrily handing them out to any passing child.   The wetland area the paths were flat and easy for every  child to run around and trace arrows and names in the sandy soil.

Dean City Farm

The Farm has beautiful chickens, the woolliest sheep you have ever seen and an eclectic selection of other animals.  My son’s favourites were the ferrets!  It has a riding school within it and children can also become a farmer for a day or a week - real country kids.  We learnt from one of them that why one of the goats had had its horns cut to stop it curling around and cutting into its skin.  I also learnt a use for those grapes that seem to discolour so quickly.  They are a favourite with ducks, as are tomatoes and lettuce.  White bread apparently does them no good what so ever.


Community garden Dean City Farm
 
 
Willow Spyglass
 

Community Garden


I have saved the best to last as we visited the community garden at the end of our visit.  The farm was very busy on this very sunny February half term day.  For some reason though most visitors passed by the garden and there was an immediate feeling of tranquillity upon entering.  The children loved it.  It seemed to have all the elements to make it really child friendly.  Pathways to run around, raised beds to make access to beds easy, a tree to climb, a pond and places to sit and hide.  For the wildlife there were log piles and bee hotels.
 
bug hotel
 
Lots of the plants were labelled and many were beginning to peep through the ground.  It was clear that many herbs and bee friendly plants were being grown.  I loved the willow spyglass.  The ‘prayer’ flags also seemed to work perfectly in the urban setting. There was a large vegetable bed and all raised beds for veg growing.  It all served to show what can be achieved in a relatively small space of ground


Turf Maze
 
 
 
Fizzy bottle roof building
 
 
 
 
 

Two features, the turf maze and the fizzy bottle roof building were just a delight.  I have seen greenhouses made of drinks bottles, but never a squashed bottle roof.  Reading more about how it had been built on the garden’s website made me feel quite jealous that I hadn’t been involved.  It obviously had been a real community event.
This garden had clearly been designed and evolved with a great deal of care and attention. The Farm is a touch of the countryside within the city and within that there is this little oasis of a garden, well worth a visit even if you do not have children with you.


20 comments:

  1. it is really a little oasis in middle of the huzzle and bustle of the city! Great for all kids - whatever the age!

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    1. Thanks for the comment - couldn't agree more

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  2. What a fantastic haven to be able to visit. I love the bottle roof top - it is a lovely way to involve the visitors to the garden and show children the possibilities of recycling.

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    1. The plastic bottle roof was the best - it looked like it embodied the ethos of the garden. thanks for your comments

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  3. It certainly has something for everyone - young or old. What a little gem within the city! My favourite has to be the bottle top roof - very inventive. Thanks for linking to Country Kids.

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    1. PLastic bottle roof was my favourite too. Looking forward to linking lots with country kids this year

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  4. it looks like a lovely place to visit, love the bottle top roof xx

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    1. The bottle top roof is getting the thumbs up from everyone. Thank you for commenting

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  5. wow that looks like a great place to visit and fun aswell as interesting for all ages. the fizzy bottle top roof is genius and very inventive x

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    1. Can't believe that i have lived so close for so long and never visited. I hope more plastic bottle roofs get built. Many thanks for your comments

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  6. For the past six years up until June last year I lived in Morden, so this is my old stomping ground! I used to walk in Morden Hall Park about four times a week and regularly went down to Dean City Farm. Really lovely to see a write up of it all and lovely photographs. It is indeed a little oasis in the hub of the city x

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    1. Pleased it has brought back memories for you. It has certainly given us some. Thank you for the comments about the photos

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  7. How lovely to read about Deen City Farm's community garden...I actually designed and built this garden in 2004 with a Children in Need grant! It was then continued by a wonderful arty women who beautifully complimented the features already there. Some very happy years and now I have my own children I really must go back and visit!

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    1. Sarah how lovely to hear from you (I love coincidences like this)- you should feel really pleased and proud with yourself you started such a lovely project. It did feel as if the garden had a female touch. Hope you get to visit it soon. I have other photos I could e mail you if you are interested. Many thanks for getting in touch

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  8. This was the first city farm I took my (now 3-year-old) son to! Your post brings back happy memories. He was walking (just), and was terrified by the big turkey near the entrance.

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    1. They still have a turkey there. I can't believe it taken my so long to find this farm. Do you recommend any others?

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  9. Makes me wish I still lived in London!

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  10. What a delightful space for children to explore! We love our local gardens to visit too.

    Thank you for sharing at the Oudoor Play Party!

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    1. Thanks for the comment - love your outdoor play party

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  11. Linda what a pleasure to be able to walk and see this beautiful haven.

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