Minstead Study Centre celebrates start of Big Grow Project during 50th anniversary year thanks to local donation

The Barker-Mill Foundation (BMF) has recently awarded £10,000 to the Friends of Minstead Study Centre to help kick start its Big Grow Project.

The Big Grow Project, which forms part of the Minstead Study Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations, is a multi-faceted project which will see an inspirational, highly productive fruit and vegetable garden developed at the Study Centre as its centerpiece.

As well as providing fresh produce for children visiting the Study Centre, the garden will also be used to teach children, volunteers and members of the local community about how to grow seasonal, organic food. In addition, the project will extend to local schools to establish educational, vegetable gardens on their sites. Courses will run from the Study Centre for the local community and it will also engage volunteers to give them the opportunity to work on, and learn from the garden.

Jane Pownall, Head of Minstead Study Centre, said: “The donation from the Barker-Mill Foundation will allow us to employ a part-time head gardener to bring the educational garden to life. We aim to get the garden established during 2018 and for it to come into full productivity in the second year of the project. The gardener will be a crucial member of staff to ensure things run smoothly and oversee our attendance at some food-related events, where we plan to run educational activities.

“We have been supported by the Barker-Mill Foundation in the past and know that they understand our mission and our ethos. It is great to work with a funder that is based locally and is dedicated to supporting local organisations.”

The Minstead Study Centre is a self-financing, non-profit making business, based in the heart of the New Forest. Its primary purpose is to engage primary school children in learning about how to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

The Centre has been running successfully for 50 years and welcomes around 2,500 children per year. Primary schools from all over the south of England send classes from years three to year six on short residential courses, accompanied by school staff. The families pay a modest sum for their children to attend and the Study Centre endeavors to keep costs to a minimum in order that prices are affordable for families across the whole social spectrum.

Programmes run by Minstead Study Centre provide a core of science and geography studies, delivered in an exciting and innovative manner, reaching into art, drama, music, religion and history with all activities linked to curriculum needs.

Tim Jobling, BMF Trustee, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Minstead Study again with its latest efforts to enhance the learning of children and the wider community with its new vegetable garden. It’s surprising how many children do not know where the food they are eating comes from so this project provides them with a wonderful unique outdoor learning experience.”

The Study Centre’s seven acre site provides an ideal environment for the visiting children who also venture out into the New Forest to provide a wilder backdrop to their learning. It runs a varied programme of community courses at weekends and in the summer holidays on subjects such as bread making, willow weaving, vegan cooking, composting and organic gardening.

For further information about the Minstead Study Centre visit www.hants.gov.uk/educationandlearning/minsteadstudycentre or www.friendsofminstead.org.uk