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Holy Brook Nook – In the heart of Coley

Long term projects are exciting journeys of collective transformation for Nature Nurture. We have years of experience managing large projects with multiple partners, pooling our experience to supporting healthier, happier communities to have a sense of pride in where they live.

Funded by Reading Borough Council's  Community Infrastructure Levy, Nature Nurture is currently delivering a year long project to transform the area of Holy Brook, a run down area that's been known for crime. We are overturning local perceptions and fear to occupy the space with a thriving culture of custodianship and a hive of nature based conservation, outdoor education and community events.

By co-creating a community and education space and improving the built environment, Nature Nurture up-skills local people and unleashes the potential of  neglected  land. The area is a hot spot for rough sleepers and our holistic approach links with these groups and helps signpost support.

Much of the space is created using local natural materials, made available through the conservation sessions, such as coppiced hazel and willow. The scope for change grows, week by week.

 

 

 

 

 

Facilitating co-design sessions in community settings including schools and community spaces, we begin by engaging with community groups and local people to understand their challenges and explore their ideas for the area.

We feed into these sessions research around local history and biodiversity. Everyone shares their vision for the future. Building on this input and using responses to the original project brief plus input from local schools, we create an outdoor learning area and community space.

It was great to be with you all at the beginnings of what’s such an exciting project and to feel so welcomed. Thank you! Coley is an area with so much history, catastrophically impacted on by the IDR but this potential oasis of green space being reclaimed for its community is just the kind of positive action that’s so uplifting after the time we’ve all been living through. Looking forward to joining you again and hoping you get lots more volunteers!

Jan

Coley History and Events Facebook page

 

Our project delivers :

Up-skilled teaching at Coley and Katesgrove primary schools by bringing them out of the classroom into green and blue spaces, where they can embrace nature-based learning and outdoor arts

Regular inclusive events, including conservation volunteering sessions, health walk programmes and co-creation of public art.

Improved green/ blue spaces, therapeutic nature and art interventions and beautiful large-scale art,

An outdoor learning area and community space called Holy Brook Nook including a ‘Holy Brook Meadow’,

Ongoing nature and history research, using both published resources and conversations with local people.

A living willow archway and leaf stepping stones to draw the public into the Holy Brook Nook. It is demarcated with a hazel hurdle fence, constructed by volunteers.

A meandering path, a Tree Trail with signs attached to (without damaging) trees.

An area dedicated to digging and another to a bug hotel, made from pallets and built up over time by the conservation volunteers and children.

Community engagement and research

Our participatory and visual workshop methods ensure everyone can get involved, whatever their language or confidence level. Local people are at the heart of the process from the outset and their ideas and aspirations genuinely feed into the programme design. These methods ensure they’re on board and participating in the varied sessions, with something for everyone.

Outdoor learning support

We are designing a bespoke outdoor education programme for Coley and Katesgrove primary schools, with the aim of equipping their staff teams with the skills and confidence to take learning out of the classroom, into the Holy Brook Nook.

Conservation programmes

The site has great potential to be a well loved and well used piece of green space in an otherwise densely urban area. We are improving the existing grassland, waterway and wooded space. With careful conservation and planting. we are enhancing the area’s biodiversity.

Volunteers from the local community are carefully guided by conservation professionals.

Enhancements include:

    • Litter clearance in green spaces and in Holy Brook
    • Hazel coppicing, hurdle fence, dead hedge and archway making
    • Planting native bulbs and wild flowers
    • Bramble removal along iron fence
    • Tree Trail pathway
    • Holy Brook water testing and improvements
    • Installing interpretation boards and signage
    • Bug hotel

Public art

Our public art partners, Commando Jugenstil will be working with the community to create signage and artworks. They draw on local history and nature, work with the community to visualise a sustainable future. They are creating, plywood cutouts, to affix to the cast iron fence, painting panels on wall areas, making waterbird cut outs on the wooden bridge, a mural in the nearby pedestrian tunnel and pavement animal prints on pathways near the Holy Brook Nook.

By the end of the year the Coley community will be transformed from reaping the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature, exploring places they have not visited before, engaging with the arts and playing their role in looking after their local green spaces and waterway.