As the year draws to a close, we’ve been reflecting on the developments of our youth programmes over the last year. One such exciting development was the launch of a new Generator (youth leadership) programme, primarily for young people aged 11 to 14, writes Rachel Solomon.
Supported by The Marple Charitable Trust, we began working with our first cohort of two, from March this year, and through 12 fortnightly sessions and additional training/volunteering opportunities - often with the support of specialist workshop facilitators - we delivered sessions on a variety of topics to enable the young people to develop their skills and widen their perspectives, as well as help them find a connection with nature and their local community.
The topics covered with them have included values and what they mean to us, the King's Cross community, seasonal cooking, urban organic gardening and companion planting, event hosting at the new Skip Garden, pizza oven making with cob, organic farming, "inoculating" soil with giant worms, and bees - honeybees in particular.
Reflecting on their experience, this is what some of the young people had to say about their time:
Ali, 11: “My time as a Generator so far has been interesting because we have done different things that have also been exciting because the stuff has been different. We learnt about seasonality of fruit and vegetables. We also made a clay pizza oven, and I have learnt a bit about gardening. I enjoyed the cooking and learning about the seasons. I want to do more!”
Toni, 12: “My time as a Generator so far has been weird and wonderful, learning new things.”
Christopher, 11: “My time as Generator so far has been interesting as I have done planting and cooking, and today I used mud and added straw to make an oven. This [programme] has let me go on things like beekeeping, which is good as I have an opportunity I wouldn't have otherwise. I've also met new people.”
We also ran a camp in August at the end of the first cohort. This was attended by 12 young people. Throughout the camp, we threaded the consistent frame of our relationship with nature throughout the 3 days and 2 nights in total. This included looking at who we are and what we’re a part of, and how we are all part of a large community made up of not only humans, but soils, plants, animals and waters.
All the staff members present led the young people to slow their pace right down, and explore a wider perspective through silent walks, reflective writing, working on the land (through gardening, cooking and working with wood) as well as learning about ways of connecting to the land through activities such as foraging. They were also introduced to the principles of organic food-growing on a commercial scale at Pertwood Organic Farm.
Here is an account of the camp, in the words of Assia, 11, one of the participants:
“Being here at Pertwood, I want to be different in the way I am. I want to be able to face my fears and have fun doing it. I want to be able to learn and walk as well as talk at the same time. When I return home I would like to be a braver and more confident person. Whilst walking around Pertwood, I want to make friends and enjoy nature and time.”
“Being here at this moment makes me feel special. Being surrounded by the beauty of the British countryside makes me want to stay in the moment. It almost feels like I’m on another planet. The scenery that surrounds me comforts me whilst also giving me a bit of a scare. A once in a lifetime opportunity being here – it makes me feel special.”
“What I want to take away from my experience is that if something happens once, you won’t always get it again. I was petrified on the first night but the second night was perfect. I assumed that both nights would be bad, but I assumed wrong. I need to learn to take more chances and be less scared as time in Pertwood has really helped me learn.”
In addition to experiencing first-hand how Global Generation’s commercial strands – the Skip Garden Kitchen and Garden commissions – work, as with all our youth programmes, the Generators benefitted from encounters with and visits to many of the local business in and around King’s Cross. Between March and August 2015, they met with and/or visited The Honey Club, Karmarama, Wolff Olins, OMD, King’s Cross Estate rooftop of the Western Transit Shed, King's Cross Pond Club, and, of course, Pertwood Organic Farm.
We’re now looking forward to working with the second cohort – watch this space!