Uncomfortable Scavenger Hunt
Grandpont: Location 2
Hogacre Common Eco Park, Oxford, Oxford OX1 4QH
Welcome to Oxford's secret garden.
Where the Wild Things Are
Hogacre Common Eco Park Entrance
Yet this site was not accessible to all throughout all its history. Once upon a time, because Hogacre was part of the Thames basin, it was the subject to frequent floods, and its main visitors were pigs who came there to graze. In the late 19th century, this site became closer to the city of Oxford through the development of the railway lines. Corpus Christi, one of the university of Oxford colleges, saw an opportunity to purchase cheap land to create a sports field for its students - the college being itself nested in the midst of the medieval streets. The sports field was created in 1908.
The building you can see today in the midst of Hogacre common - today a volunteer-run vegetarian café, open on Sundays - used to be a cricket pavilion, with a design initially inspired by Christopher Wren’s Chelsea Hospital in London. The design was eventually simplified to meet the college’s budget requirement.
By the 2000's, the college - with a small student body - struggled to make use of the space, deemed distant from its main site and unsuitable for the building of further accommodation, especially because of the frequent flooding. The college also agreed to share the University's sports grounds.
In 2010, the West Oxford Community Renewables took up the lease of the field for a jar of honey per year - for an initial duration of 25 years. The Hogacre Common Eco Park was born out of it as a social enterprise motivated by local production and reinvestment into the local community.
One of Oxford’s best kept secrets is located just a mile of the city centre, in the middle of wet meadow-lands to the south, on the other side of a footbridge crossing the railways lines.
Hogacre Common is a fourteen-acre stretch of land, is bounded by streams on three sides, turning into a treasure island of fertile fields, woodland. Today, it is the site of West and South Oxford community activities events that all have one motto in mind: low carbon and redistribution.
Hogacre Commons Volunteer-run café
View of Hogacre Commons Gardens
View of Hogacre Commons Gardens
Among its different projects, take some time to learn about:
OxGrow: an initiative that turned the old college tennis courts into food gardens, in order to welcome anyone to learn how to grow seasonal food.
Beekeeping, with interference with the natural lives of the bees kept to a minimum, and nothing taken front he hives that bees cannot afford to lose.
The Forest School, to learn outside of the classroom according to the interests of the learners - a site used by three local primary schools !
The New Woodland, 3 acres of the former college field planted with young trees after the lease was taken over, to recreate a typical Southern Britain woodland of mixed deciduous lowland wood, today in decline. In the first two years of the lease, over 3,000 new trees were planted there!
Tucked away but close to central Oxford, Hogacre Common is only accessible by foot, and preserved from motor vehicles encroachments. Exclusively run by volunteers, it brings together community and university members, it remains a perfect site for socially distanced and socially minded activities.
With friends or family? Discuss the following:
The Hogacre Common encourages local food production and is a beautiful green space in the heart of the modern city.
Despite its closeness to the city centre, this area is full of parks and leisure spaces - why do you think this is?
How do green spaces and nature reserves affect the character of a city?
Tag us with your thoughts about this trail on social media:
Grand Pont Nature Reserve
You would have walked past the nature reserve on your way to Hogacre - after the Scavenger Hunt we encourage you to wander back and enjoy the park!
Stroll along the south bank of the Thames River in the Grandpont Nature Park
Something to see later: