UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Evaluation Exchange: Calthorpe Community Garden - Relax, Play, Eat

28 April 2022

The Evaluation Exchange is a partnership between UCL and voluntary and community sector organisations that aims to improve evaluation practice. This blog outlines the work of Calthorpe Community Garden aiming to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of those who live nearby.

Basic map of Calthorpe Community Garden

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Pink poster with cartoon people on it and a QR code in the middle
What is Calthorpe Community Garden?

Calthorpe Community Garden is a green oasis just 10-minutes walk from UCL. It aims to improve the physical and mental well-being of those who live, work, or study in the neighbourhood. It is run by a team of incredibly dedicated people, some of whom we got to meet through Evaluation Exchange.

There are lots of different activities taking place at the garden each week, such as gardening, tai chi, meditation, cooking classes, tennis lessons, youth football or Early years stay and play, to name but some. There are also many special events such as the celebration of International Women's Day, or the Easter Egg Hunt held earlier this year. All activities and events are open to new, interested people.

The Garden is open 7 days a week and is well worth a visit!

What did Calthorpe hope to achieve through Evaluation Exchange?

Calthorpe hoped that through Evaluation Exchange they would be in a better position to evidence the impact that the garden has on the local community, and thereby be better prepared to apply for grant funding. Calthorpe wanted to demonstrate that they make a difference to people’s lives.

What did we do?

Gate of Calthorpe community garden with metal people holding hand above
Following a series of in-person and Zoom meetings we determined to digitise and adapt Calthorpe’s existing surveys, so that using them to collect feedback would be easier and more efficient. Once the online surveys were approved, we have created posters with QR codes linking to the online forms, and hung those around the Garden. Now visitors to the Garden can scan the QR from the posters with their devices, which will take them straight to the feedback survey, requiring little involvement from the busy staff.

During the Women’s Day event we have approached visitors to the Garden in person to encourage them to fill in the online survey on the tablets newly purchased for the purpose. We have applied to the Evaluation Exchange Seed and Accessibility Funding to cover the cost of the tablets. Thanks to this new equipment the visitors who do not have access to their own devices can still easily fill in the online survey and provide valuable feedback for Calthorpe.

To help Calthorpe to use the collected data and data visualisations, to manage the online survey, and to create any new surveys and QR codes after our time with Evaluation Exchange ends, we have created a comprehensive, step-by-step ‘How-to’ document which we shared with the team.

Further to the surveys, to capture the joy and beauty of Calthorpe Community Garden we have visited the Garden on a number of occasions and filmed the space and the visitors enjoying their time there. We have also recorded interviews with garden guests and the Calthorpe team. We have then used the footage to create a short video that Calthorpe can use when talking to potential funders. 

We have also successfully applied for the Bartlett Community of Engagers Equity Fund, securing funding to facilitate two garden visits between Calthorpe Community Garden and Forest Gate Community Garden. The visits will allow the members of the two gardens to build up conversation around shared concerns and issues, and aid in developing a potential partnership.

Who is on the Calthorpe Evaluation Exchange team?

The core members of Calthorpe’s team working on Evaluation Exchange are: Louise Gates (the Project Director), Ray Ansah (the Sports Development Manager), Gaven Duffy (the Supported Volunteer Manager) and Mila Campoy (the Community Food Growing Worker for older people).

We, the UCL team of PhD researchers assigned to work with Calthorpe, are: Anna-Leigh Brown (Department of Neuromuscular Diseases), Alfred Harwood (Quantum Science and Technology Institute), Aleksandra Kaye (Department of History) and Yuhong Wang (Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering).

If you'd like to get involved or help out Calthorpe Community Garden, you can visit their website.