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About Moulsecoomb Forest Garden

About The Project

It was in the autumn of 1994 when a group of friends decided to get an allotment. I cycled around town until I came across this secret little site hidden behind Moulsecoomb railway station. The first plot we took on was a long thin strip overgrown with ash and brambles and the council gave it to us rent free for a year because it had been derelict for 20 years!
Over time as friends drifted away we decided to put the project on a firmer footing - we started to have our regular `open to everyone - no gardening experience necessary' workdays, become a not for profit company then a charity.
Fast forward to October 2014 and we celebrated 20 years with a big open day.
We've come a long way since then and are now registered as an open college that can offer qualifications to pupils struggling at school and workdays bustling with a wide range of people. In particular we offer volunteering opportunities to people with learning difficulties and it is this melting pot of people that we think makes the project so special.
We now have nine plots growing organic food, fed from our enormous compost bins, with wildlife ponds, a compost loo, bee hives and a bee garden. Our outdoor clay oven is used regularly to feed our hungry volunteers every Tuesday and Friday, and we have a large cabin built mainly from local wood and recycled materials.
We work with over 50 pupils a week from a variety of schools, and continue to run clubs at Moulsecoomb Primary at their award-winning school grounds. But this isn't about being an exam factory. This is about the quality of the intervention for pupils, many of whom struggle in a conventional classroom. Much of our work is one-to-one so we can tailor their education to their specific needs with a high degree of mentoring. Our intervention supports pupils’ schoolwork, and the qualifications will help move these young people into employment, work experience, apprenticeships or further training.
Thanks to our campaigning, Queensdown Woods, directly behind the allotments, is now in the South Downs National Park. We have drawn up a management plan LINK and use the woods to teach pupils about coppicing and woodland management.
Our project isn’t just about gardening. It plays an important part of the social glue that binds communities together, with all types of people, young and old, pupils having problems at school, people with learning difficulties working together in a safe, pleasant and genuinely inclusive environment.
We offer horticultural, carpentry, woodland management, cooking, educational and social opportunities to Everyone. The aims of the project are to:
  • Reduce anti-social behaviour by involving excluded pupils in the running of the garden.

  • Improve community health by producing organic and locally grown fruit and vegetables.

  • Enhance skills and employability by offering practical based training and volunteering opportunities. 

  • Involve children in planting, growing and eating healthy food and learning to respect nature and the environment.

  • Create and enhance wildlife habitats and protect bio-diversity including old fashioned vegetable varieties.

  • Promote sustainable lifestyles by encouraging and educating people about the benefits of organic gardening, locally produced food and composting.

    Warren Carter November 2015


Policy Documents

Equal opportunities policy (PDF)

Safeguarding children and adults at risk policies and procedures (PDF)

Health & safety policy and procedures (PDF)

Risk Strategy (PDF)

Governance (PDF)


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