The children take over The Berry Maze

By Raluca McKett | August 03 2019

The children take over The Berry Maze

Blog Category: Campaign update and General updateBlog Tags: Children & Young People, Education, Education and Education

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    The children take over the Berry Maze

    It’s been a year and a half since the Berry Maze was planted, in November 2017. It was the result of a one year campaign which has seen the community coming together, donating time, money and skills to make this wild dream a reality – a 850 sqm piece of land transformed into a maze made out of more than 250 berry plants. The first year was a difficult one – the weather stunted the plants growth, the vandalism hit again and again, the weeds were overwhealming and the volunteers learnt many lessons – after all, it is the first time a maze was created using berry plants.

    2019 seems to be a better year – and a very exicitng one too. The plants have started to develop properly and the weeds have started to subside. A new wave of volunteers have joined and more and more people are visiting it. The photos attached to the google map of the maze have been seen over 10000 times and over 200 people are now following its dedicated Facebook.

    But that’s not the only way that the maze is growing. Malago Greenway Project has partenered up with Urban Buzz and Buglife and created a pollinators heaven inside the maze. The volunteers have planted, together with the wonderful runners from Good Gym, over 500 plug plants like marjoram, betony, primrose and red clover as ground cover for bushes plots. In time, these will create a beautiful carpet of wild flowers at the base of the berry bushes, pleasant to the eyes and essential for our little insect friends.

    But the most exciting development is that the maze is finally becoming what it was always meant to be – a little natural hub for the local children. This year, two of the local primary schools have started to use the maze for educational purposes: Oasis Academy Marksbury Road and Parson Street School.

    “We were incredibly happy to see with how much enthusiasm our proposal was met at Oasis Academy Marksbury Road. What started as a vague idea has developed under the influence of Mrs Clare Robinson, the academy’s Head Teacher, into a fantastic partnership with a fantastic school. We have started a series of educational visits at the maze and the school has taken responsabilty for two of the raspberrry plots. We have more exciting projects together planned for the future and soon you will be able to see “the fruits” of this collaboration – the pupils from Year Three will design the poster for our next litter picking event!” says Raluca, one of the organisers.

    On their part, the school shares their thoughts about the project: “As an Oasis Academy, our vision is to deliver exceptional education and be at the heart of our community- so when this local project came along we were really excited and keen to be involved. The Berry Maze provides a chance for ‘hands on education’ in a real context and for children to make a real difference in their community. We are excited to see The Berry Maze flourish and grow with the help of our children and we continue to be proud of the work and tenacity of local volunteers in setting up this project.”, says Mrs. Robinson.

    The Berry Maze and Parson Street Primary School already have made history together – Harry, a 9 year old pupil from this school, has designed the first map of the maze, on which the final design was based. Their allotments crew has worked at the maze from the beginning and the first list of berry plants was suggested by the coordinator of the aforementioned allotment crew, Darren. After a little break, the schools green team has started to take care of a raspberry plot and is organising regular working sessions at the maze.

    “As an Eco-school it’s important to us that our Green Team be involved in the community beyond Parson Street. To be involved in such a great local project at it’s early stages gives our children a sense of ownership and active citizenship. Their actions are helping build a better community – that’s a powerful thing. Quite apart from that, the kids just love getting into the dirt and their enthusiasm for weeding is infectious!”, explains Finette Devrell, the head of the Eco Team from Parsons Street Primary School.

    From its inception, the Berry Maze was created to be a project in the community, by the community and for the community, and this year it seems to prove this more than ever. If you’d like to get involved, you can write to the organisers on our.berry.maze@gmail.com.

    Oh, and we finally manage to make a presentation film for the maze. Here it is:

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Raluca McKett