Wolf Fields, our community project, started in 2013, after we came across a neglected green space which had been designated for allotments but left empty, write Kailean and Kim Khongsai in Southall.
Three acres in size and close to a housing estate, church and school, we saw potential and had a sense of God’s calling to the site.
We had a vision, but there was lots of work to be done. We wanted to see the site transformed into a beautiful green space that would bring the whole community, no matter their faith, together. For that to happen, we would need to clear the site. As it had been left empty for several years, it had fallen into disrepair and been used for fly tipping and substance abuse.
Since we started, we have gradually seen different parts of the site take shape and benefit the community in different ways. One of our first tasks was clearing 54 tonnes of rubbish, including mattresses and furniture. New paths were laid to improve access across the site, and we brought in nest boxes and a bird feeding station to attract wildlife.
A central aspect of the Wolf Fields project is our community allotment. Fully organic and lovingly maintained by local community members, it produces food all year round.
In 2014, in keeping with the spirit of a community project, a competition was held in four local primary schools to design a sensory garden, and the final design was crafted by a local seven-year-old. The sensory garden is now complete, with a beautiful central dome feature. The local community has helped with the planting, and various companies have donated products, time and expertise to help the sensory garden become a reality. In February 2018, a braille information board for the sensory garden and an audio post for the pond were installed in conjunction with Ealing Association for the Blind.
A community orchard and apiary (cluster of beehives) have been established on the site as part of the Pollination Project, a project intended to benefit local insects and invertebrates. It has also proved a valuable resource for schoolchildren learning about pollination. We plan to add a wildflower meadow in the spring to help support the apiary.
A storytelling shelter and fire pit, installed in September 2016, has become one of our most popular spots for schoolchildren as well as for adults. The facility is well used for storytelling, bonfires, cooking and for prayer events, including an Easter sunrise service.
The project is maintained by members of the Wolf Fields Friends Group, who volunteer on a weekly basis. We have welcomed help from local churches (Masih Ghar, St Anselm’s, St John’s, St Mary’s and Southall Baptist Church) and youth volunteering groups like The Challenge Network. More recently, local agencies such as MindFood (which helps people improve their mental health through horticulture), Hope for Southall Street Homeless and Community Payback have also started to get involved.
We have installed a shipping container as a secure storage area for our tools and equipment (as things have been stolen in the past), and painted it with a mural designed by talented local community members. Over 60 local schoolchildren were involved in painting the container.
We added a pond in November 2017, which is an important focal point for wildlife on the site. We are excited to see some wildlife attracted to the pond and even start to settle down! We plan to introduce more aquatic plants early next year.
Last October we celebrated our harvest event at Wolf Fields. It was a wonderful event with most of our volunteers attending along with local church youth groups. In total, we were over 70 people. Our activities included sowing daffodil bulbs for next spring, harvesting allotment crops, food and a bonfire, as well as group prayer.