Founded in 2014, Paradise Co-operative is a registered charity in Wandsworth that stewards under-used land for urban growing and community gardening. Our main site is Dobbins Field, an acre of land just opposite HM Wandsworth Prison which we steward on their behalf.
Once an overgrown and derelict site, we initially used rare-breed pigs to turn and fertilise the soil and begin the basis of our growing there. The hard work of our volunteers has transformed this into a beautiful small-holding including an orchard, poly-tunnels, raised vegetable beds, a fish-pond, bush-craft area and community celebration area with pizza oven and running water.
We are inspired by the ethos of permaculture, and seek to emulate its principles of earth care, people care and fair share. Dobbins field is the heart of our community and the focus of our participation.
When we are getting it right:
People grow | The land grows | Stories grow | Community grows
Brendan: has a background in property development and brings experience around planning and development. His passion is social enterprise and has recently shown by his purchase ofa local pub, which he has restored as the heart of the local community. He has recently graduated with a MSc in Sustainability.
Johnny: is a local Anglican priest, pioneer and poet – with experience in community relief and development, social enterprise and sustainability. He also developed a groundbreaking vocational learning community called make believe, hosted in Bournemouth Dorset, London, New Haven CT and Dallas TX. He loves nature and the outdoors as a place for learning and personal development.
Jo: has been a teacher for 19 years specialising in Geography and the Sixth Form. She is currently working at Saint Cecilia’s, Church of England School, in Southfields. She is passionate about outdoor education and everything geographical.
Scott: has a background in finance and now works in environmental finance. He has a passion for bees, biodynamics, and permaculture after having taken a sabbatical to work in sustainable farming.
James works part time as director of operations for Paradise. With a background in community and volunteer led projects he brings practical working experience and a passion for community engagement.
Melissa works part time overseeing the Educational programme of work; developing new content and partnerships. She also delivers our weekly ‘Wild Learning’ lessons with local primary schools, having swapped the classroom for the outdoors.
Sam is Level 3 Forest School trained and has been running Wild Child and Forest school programmes for the past 2 years. He has also been involved with many other alternative education projects.
Dobbins field is our main community gardening site. Next to Wandsworth Common and opposite HM Prison Wandsworth, this peaceful space is the focus of our Participation, Education and Celebration.
At about an acre, Dobbins Field is a wonderfully diverse site and allows our community to learn about growing food together. We grow all kinds of fruits and vegetables in our orchard, raised beds and poly tunnels. Last year we even grew some watermelons!
The pond is part of our effort to help increase the biodiversity of our site. Ponds support a huge number of plants and animals and are particularly good for invertebrates like dragonfly.
This year we have been very excited to introduce two swarms of bees to our hives. Bees are an incredibly important part of our ecosystem, but numbers are rapidly falling owing to use of pesticides and loss of habitat, so it’s even more vital to look for opportunities to protect them.
Our community space provides a place for learning and celebrating, with its pizza oven and fire-pit which are perfect for eating together and story-telling.