Eco-charity seek cash to launch classroom on wheels

The milk float Octopus are raising money to convert

An eco charity has unveiled plans to transform a milk float into a mobile classroom in a bid to bring nature to residents’ doorsteps.

The Octopus charity, a community-led organisation, first had the idea for the “milk-float turned potting shed and classroom” last year. They have affectionately dubbed the design the ‘Islington Gro-Mobile’.

The charity needs to raise around £15,000 in order to finance the float, which will feature solar panels and run on green energy.

Ann Matchette, development officer at Octopus, said: “Milk floats have become very trendy, especially in the street food business, and it’s quirky and fun.

“We hope to use the Gro-mobile to bring our community gardening initiative to more people in the borough who are either living in food poverty and want to learn to grow their own food, or who have space issues and little access to green space.”

The milk float Octopus are raising money to convert
The milk float Octopus are raising money to convert

Staff at the charity have already laid eyes upon their perfect milk-float; a 2005 model named ‘Bluebell’. Her previous owner, a musician from Norfolk, used to take ‘Bluebell’ on roads trips to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where he regularly performed. He has agreed to hold the vehicle until enough money can be raised to pay for it.

The team plan to refit the float, so they can transport equipment and run nature classes and events from it. They hope the float will allow them to access harder to reach places like parks, estates and where there is little greenery across the borough.

Prior to this, the team had been using a wheely suitcase with a wheel missing to transport their equipment.

Ms Matchette added: “This project is about empowering people to grow things for themselves and allow them to transform the environment around them.

“It is about getting people out and giving them the education and tools to planning plan and grow their own plants.’’

The charity are now appealing for funds to finance the project. They have a crowdfunding page and are also talking to local businesses and the council to secure grants. They hope to get match-funded by the council to reach their fundraising target.

The charity are planning a new seasonal programme of activities that they will run when the float is ready. It’s hoped that ‘Bluebell’ will become a focal point for the campaign to encourage more people to utilize and enjoy the outdoors.

To donate to the campaign and to find out more visit the Gro-Mobile website

Pictures: Ann Matchette