Socius, the mixed-use development company behind MK Gateway, has supported Milton Keynes based charity, Camphill MK, with a new horticultural project as it continues to prepare Saxon Court ahead of the planned development.
As part of the groundworks, and in recognition of the iconic site’s legacy in Milton Keynes, Socius with investment partner Patron Capital, has been working with Milton Keynes City Council and the local community to rehome the hundreds of plants which were housed in the former council office’s atrium.
After hearing about the charity for adults with learning disabilities, Socius, together with the City Council, arranged for the then-redundant irrigation system from Saxon Court to be removed and installed in the raised beds at Camphill MK.
Tucked away in Willen Park, Camphill MK's allotments grow fruit and vegetables, feeding more than 500 people weekly. An important part of the community's daily activities, the gardening workshops are attended by up to 24 individuals with learning disabilities and autism and supported by skilled support workers. In addition, service users participate in horticultural activities as part of their personal development.
The allotments are currently being expanded into a paddock, previously used for horse grazing, which will soon boast poly-tunnels, raised beds, sensory gardens, an edible forest and a story-telling circle.
Following the installation of the Saxon Court irrigation system, a grant from D'Oyly Carte was also awarded in April 2023 to extend it further.
The produce grown at Camphill MK goes into the homes of the residents feeding them and the staff who support them. The fruit, vegetables and salad also supply their on-site vegetarian Café, which boasts around 300 visitors weekly. The Café is open to the public (Monday to Friday) and offers exciting meat-free lunches, cakes, and bread made on-site in their artisan bakery.
Steve Eccles, Director for Socius, comments: “We were delighted to work with Milton Keynes City Council to support Camphill MK with the installation of the irrigation system from Saxon Court. As part of our preparation to develop MK Gateway, it has been important to us that we rehome and recycle as many items from Saxon Court as possible and the donation of the irrigation system to Camphill MK is a great example of this.
It was wonderful to visit the site and meet people from the community, see the allotments and paddock and try some of the produce at The Camphill Café. Socius are advocates for sustainable developments, and it was great to hear how sustainable Camphill MK is, and how the irrigation system will go some way to supporting these objectives. We look forward to partnering with them again in the future.”
Tim Davies, CEO at Camphill MK, comments: "There is a wealth of clinical research evidence linking positive mental health outcomes with a balanced diet including fresh fruit and vegetables, and the risk of dementia can be significantly reduced through healthy eating. So it is vital that we provide healthy dishes grown without pesticides and with minimal (in fact, zero) food miles attached to them. Working in the garden is a wonderful physical activity benefitting our residents in so many ways."
The community is excited about the partnerships with Socius on the irrigation development of the Camphill paddocks.