One of the many charities Miracle-Gro work with is 'Jigsaw', an independent day school for children and young people with an autism spectrum disorder based in Dunsfold, Surrey. Last year Dunsfold Park gifted the Café, on the business park where the school is situated, to Jigsaw. This is great for them, as it brings in extra money to help the school run. A few months ago, Dunsfold Park said they would also donate a piece of land on the park, which they could use to create a garden and place to grow veg.
An area has now been designated for them right next to the café, which will be fenced and started to be built over the summer months. Miracle-Gro have donated a selection of products, which they plan to use in the raised beds and pots.
The aim of the Café Garden is to provide a safe, accessible outdoor space for Jigsaw+ clients and pupils of Jigsaw School, to embark on a significant range of learning and skills opportunities at a location near to the Jigsaw+ Centre for Lifelong Learning and the school.
It is widely known that people with autism enjoy sensory activities. Gardening enables our clients and pupils to indulge in many sensory activities they may otherwise be unable to experience, in an indoor setting.
Horticulture is considered very therapeutic and also provides a number of other significant benefits to young adults with severe learning difficulties and autism.
The Café Garden will be created under the guidance of Rob Steer, Jigsaw Trusts Horticulture Consultant/Tutor, in partnership with the clients of Jigsaw+ and the pupils of Jigsaw School.
Since this is a ‘living’ project it has enormous scope for growth over time, therefore, it is important that following initial consultation, the ongoing partnership with clients and pupils is maintained. The partnership will be developed to ensure that clients and pupils are included in the decision making process encompassing a variety of interesting projects; for example, the choice of plants and/or their planting locations, new plantings and small structural ideas and the ongoing general maintenance requirements.
This involvement would also enhance the sense of achievement, ownership and responsibility.
At this stage of the project, the land has been gifted to the school, a local fencing contractor has installed a fence and gate and raised beds have been purchased and put in place. The Miracle-Gro compost has filled up the raised beds, and planting can soon take place.
The next part of the project is to raise funds for a tool shed and for a potting shed, so the pupils are still able to undertaken horticultural work when the weather is not so great