Grow 19 is based at The East Malling Community Centre. We share a site with a day nursery, Sure Start Centre and café. Various other community initiatives are also based on the site, from exercise classes to Citizens’ Advice signposting events and even a community cinema.
On the Grow 19 site, learners benefit from access to:
Construction and Horticulture learners have started working to develop a training garden on the site of four former community allotments. The site is home to a polytunnel, a fruit and veg patch to supply our catering team and the community café with fresh produce and a formal garden where learners can practice horticulture skills such as planting, pruning and weeding necessary for their work experience and accreditation. There is also a chance for learners to have a go at paving, to create pathways with loose and hard-surfaces and to construct patios and retaining walls.
The site features a small woodland full of potential. Plans include developing an outdoor learning and sensory play area for local children. The restoration of this space gives our learners a chance to develop their construction and horticulture skills in different ways as well as an opportunity to do something positive for the local community. Learners have constructed a bird hide and installed bird feeders for visitors wanting to observe the local wildlife, a composting area, a marquee for undercover learning and restored benches and play equipment. Work is underway to build a pond and new pathways.
Though our learners are a hardy bunch and not afraid to work in a bit of bad weather, we needed a sheltered workspace to use for more precise joinery and assembly work on wet and windy days. With the help of Skills for Employment, we have turned an area of the courtyard into a workshop, complete with a roof and work bench.
Learners complete Employability and PSD workshops in the classroom as well as their Functional Skills work. The proximity of our learning space, close to other users of the community centre, helps us to develop good community links and engage with real world projects in the local area.
Much of the Catering and Hospitality learners’ practical work takes place in the community café, getting them used to working with the equipment typically found in a commercial setting. However, we also have access to a kitchenette which learners can use to make their own lunches and practice home cooking skills. The Catering group offers a lunch service, twice a week, for their peers, staff and visitors which also helps to raise money for the college.