An Interview with Steve Williams, Oasis Community Project

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‘We love our community Solardome® glasshouse’

Steve Williams Oasis Community Centre Worksop We recently visited the Oasis Community Project on the Kilton Estate in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Home to a SOLARDOME® Retreat, the community project unites people of all ages in the local area in caring for their environment and creating an oasis of green space.

Steve Williams, project leader of the Oasis Community Project and who helped to raise the money to transform the once derelict youth centre into a community centre, garden and orchard, shared his thoughts on the dome, almost three years after having it installed.

How are you using your dome?
SOLARDOME Retreat - Oasis Community Project, WorksopOur Solardome® greenhouse is used for a variety of great community projects. It is the club house for our Nature Quest Project which inspires primary aged children to get involved in growing. The children love planting seeds and bulbs, pricking out young plants and potting on as they grow. These flowers and plants are then used around the centre and for hanging baskets which are taken home by the children. Plants are also sold to local people at Gala days and we love to plant any extra shrubs in their gardens. The dome is always a hub of activity, especially when the children make bird boxes, bird feeders, collect seeds, and make dried flower crafts.

Our Older Peoples Group and the Dementia Group enjoy being outside but protected from the weather, which is one of the great things about the dome. They find it therapeutic to work in the glasshouse, pricking out seedlings, dead heading plants and drying lavender.

At Christmas time it’s all change in the dome. We transform it into a Christmas grotto with huge nativity figures. Children can go to visit the stable scene with baby Jesus and Mary, Wise Men and Shepherds. On special occasions we have people dressed as characters from the Nativity story who give them gifts when they visit. For our children’s Christmas parties we create a wonderful Santa’s grotto for the kids to explore.

What community groups do you support using the dome?
The dome is a great resource. The whole community, representing all ages, use it at different times.

It is used by the Nature Quest Group every Saturday morning. This is a project group for children aged 4-12. Our Junior Youth Group for children aged 10-14 also uses it, as well as our Older Peoples Support Group. The SHE group, a group for abused women use the dome for their counselling sessions and the Craft Group uses the space to make mosaics and dry lavender and flowers for craft activities.

How many people use the dome comfortably at once?
We have created wooden staging for the inside of the dome, at heights suitable for children, adults and those in wheelchairs. We can then have up to about 20 people working in the dome at the same time.

What made you choose a Solardome® glasshouse?
I worked with the local school children to design the landscape. They looked at gardening magazines for things they would like to have at the site. One of them found the Eden project greenhouses and said they wanted one of them. We had planned to have some kind of greenhouse, so we looked to see if we could find anything similar and Solardome Industries came up. It was the only glass dome company we could see in the UK and we loved the look of them.SOLARDOME Retreat, Retreat Oasis Community Centre, Worksop

We received grants from ‘Community Spaces’ and the ‘Local Improvement Scheme’ to buy and erect the SOLARDOME® Retreat. I don’t think we would have got these grants unless they saw the futuristic aspect of it. It was different and practical and they were prepared to buy it for us because of that.

What does the Oasis Community Project like about the dome?
We love our Solardome® glasshouse because:

  • of its amazing futuristic shape which everyone notices immediately and wants in their own garden
  • things grow amazingly well in the dome, although we need to water plants in the summer several times during each day
  • we can do gardening projects throughout the year
  • it makes gardening more fun for kids
  • it’s very practical and it’s great for large group activities
  • it looks great
  • it’s the best item we put into our landscape design and gets everyone’s attention

Is there anything you would change?
Only that we wished that we had put up a bigger dome now! It has been so well used and now we know we can grow so much in there. If we had a larger dome we could include more children in our community project and grow more plants, possibly starting a small business.

If you would like to know more about the Oasis Community Project, visit www.oasiscommunitycentreproject.co.uk

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