Me & My Job - Marnie Rose, chief executive, the Garden Classroom

Marnie Rose, chief executive, the Garden Classroom - image: HW
Marnie Rose, chief executive, the Garden Classroom - image: HW

- How did you get started?

I started as a volunteer raising money and discussing plans for a new community garden. I realised the need for people to learn about nature locally and set up the Garden Classroom as a non-profit organisation to address this after winning a local social enterprise competition. People in London suffer from a kind of nature deficit disorder. King Henry's Walk Garden opened in 2007 after previously being a rose garden that attracted antisocial behaviour.

- What does your job involve?

The Garden Classroom has had 3,500 visits from pupils and delivered 250 workshops since we started in November 2008. Tesco kindly funded an £18,000 classroom extension at the garden and we have 76 plots of 6sq m each on the 0.8-acre site as well as access to Docwra's Wood.

- What is your biggest achievement?

We have just earned our first award - the urban tree prize at the London Tree & Woodland Awards. We were also named London's best community garden 2010 and appeared for a second time on BBC Gardeners' World. This is exciting for us because we have delivered many workshops using the tiny Docwra's Wood with great impact.

- What are your biggest challenges?

One of the reasons why children don't learn in the outdoors is because head teachers aren't sure whether the teaching is going to be of high enough quality. We teach years two to six and focus on key learning areas, such as what a habitat, food chain or life cycle is. That means that schools are happy to regularly bring pupils. We have now worked with 14 local primary schools nearby King Henry's Walk Garden.

- What dies the future hold?

The City of London Corporation's City Bridge Trust has given us core funding for two years, but I believe organisations such as ours will have to look for corporate sponsors. At the moment, the Garden Classroom is looking for a sponsor for its nature education initiative.


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