Our journey first started in 2017. We began by phasing out structured shop-bought equipment as we know children benefit from open ended natural resources. We researched the Reggio Emilia approach and the Frobel approach and created areas for children to benefit from.

Our natural environment has literally grown since then and the results have been magical. Children use their imaginations as they investigate the natural world around them and the infinite resources it has to offer.

As the climate crises became more prevalent we instinctively provided more education about the planet and watched children become more and more involved and inspired to learn about and look after the world around them.

Over time we have guided our wonderful team, children and families to consider all aspects of sustainability. We believe that we are all responsible for teaching children about the world around us.

Our Nature Project is something that forms the heart of everything we do here at Young Friends Nature Nursery.  We just love nature and are truly privileged to be so close to the sea and green spaces and this is very much part of the structure and content of children’s days. Whether it be learning about looking after the ocean on our regular Beach Cleans and at ‘Beach School’, or on our frequent nature walks and scavenger hunts or at our large allotment plot at the Weald.  We are always learning about nature, the seasons and biodiversity and how to look after ourselves and our planet. Take a look at the various sections of this menu where we describe all of our Nature Projects. We think its fab and so do our children. We hope you do too.

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

We call our allotment at The Weald our ‘Nature Plot’, and it is one of the most unique features of our nursery and a vital aspect to our Nature Project.

We have a large offsite allotment site – the Nature Plot and we believe children need to actively take part in growing food as this is an essential part of learning and a skill for future generations.

We have an ‘Allotment Coordinator’ – Alex, who looks after the plot with Louise (the owner of the nursery) and together they create a safe, secure environment that provides wonderful place to  grow and develop.

Alex is passionate about gardening and teaching children about the wonders of nature. He drives the children there and back in our nursery minibus and is a valued member of the team.

Children in our two eldest groups, the Baboons and Gorillas – spend a half day in winter and a full day the Spring and Summer every fortnight to learn about growing, nature and the benefits of being outside. Our younger children the Gibbons do their own growing at nursery and often help by ‘starting off’ seedlings to take to the Nature Plot.

We have planted garlic, onions and shallots, broccoli, peas, cauliflower, leeks, sprouts and potatoes and broad beans. We have had good crops of kale, tomatoes, rocket, lettuce, cucumber and courgettes, with more varieties being added all of the time.

 

We have a flower garden that attracts butterflies and bees. Our pond homes frogs and tadpoles and we see lots of insects and birds and the bath in the pond. In the same area we have a  bird house, wild bird feeding station and hedgehog shelters. This is us not only doing our little bit for biodiversity and conservation but teaching the children all about it.

We also have an outdoor classroom, bug hotel, herb and fruit gardens. We are adding all of the time as we get more and more inspired!

 

The children love to eat the fruits of their labour and take pride in what they have grown as it goes to the Nursery kitchen and is used in cooking activities.

Children take part in planting, weeding, composting, native wildlife and biodiversity, and recycling. They also do ‘Forest School’ inspired activities and delight in their environment as they learn through play.

 

The children begin to understand the importance of reusing and recycling, we collect water from the rain butt and put waste into the compost bin.

The children are encouraged to be hands on with everything; collecting wild flowers to press and make collages and add to our nursery Reggio Emilia areas, pull weeds, water, plant and talk about the local wildlife.

The allotment shop run by Pete and Mo often stop by our plot for a mingle.  The children and staff are often invited to other plots too to pick fruit and vegetables that other plots have grown.  There is a constant open invitation to our parents/carers to come and spend the day with us.

Our allotment is also a focus for biodiversity projects, particularly our dwindling bee population. The children have such an amazing time when they go up, from digging to picking produce, they find out about and appreciate their contribution to the planet’s well-being.

Our Nature Plot is a truly special place to learn and children thrive in this environment

 

Eco Schools Award:

We have achieved the the EcoSchools Green Flag which is an internationally recognised award for excellence in environmental action and learning.

OMEP-UK EDUCATION FOR SUSTAINABLE CITEZENSHIP AWARD

We recently undertook and achieved this award. We were able to deepen our understanding through training and staff development, we audited our provision and made even more changes and now have a comprehensive package for parents so that children can benefit from ‘at home learning’.

OTHER AWARDS

We work closely with local schools, in particular Hove Junior School  and we do a regular beach clean with their Eco Reps – year six students. The children from the school are really excited about being able to spend time with our young children. Our Eco collaboration will continue this year. We are keen to spread the eco-word and host meetings for other local nurseries and pre-schools

We host a regular SNAP Inspirational Day, providing a full day of continued professional development for Early Years teams all over the UK, so that they can take our ideas back to their setting.

We also put on a full days training for teams and can take this to other teams across the country.

Our ‘Eco Committee’ is made up of children and staff, they meet once per week with and talk about what we are doing for the environment at Young Friends. This is a chance to discuss any new ideas and address any concerns. We often have challenges to encourage the children to solve problems themselves.

This eco committee is also in charge of ensuring daily recycling by the team and children and that all nursery floor power – lights, computers etc. are turned off for one hour after lunch each day. They walk around the nursery in a group turning everything off and talking about why.

Each nursery room has its’ own growing area and plants dotted around the place, we have up-cycled pallets and wood to contain these areas. Children are responsible for looking after these plants and they make our indoors feel fresh and alive too. They are are mixture of succulents and other native indoor plants and the children learn all about the levels of moisture they require, how to re-pot when they get bigger and , spray them with mist to keep their leaves healthy.

We learn about composting every day. We compost at our allotment and in our giant compost tumblers at nursery. We also make mulch out of our leaves and fallen petals at nursery. Nothing is wasted and children love collecting these up as part of the Nature Plot activities.

Each room at the nursery has a labelled food caddy, children recognise what can and can’t be composted.

The kitchen and children’s fresh food waste is split between the nursery compost tumblers and cool boxes that are taken up to the allotment compost area on a weekly basis. Also going in is our guinea pig and rabbit waste, shredded paper and more. Both are then used when it ready to make our fruit and veg grow beautifully, children are reminded about the time it takes to compost as we look at this regularly.

We also have a wormery which the children look after with the team. This is a wonderful learning experience as the children watch and learn all about worms making beautiful rich compost.

Each month, or sometimes every two months if the project is really rich, our team takes an area of environmental concern and focuses on fun informative projects of their choice that will benefit the environment and include and educate the children. These areas are taken from the Eco Schools guidelines. We discuss these in our monthly staff meetings before they begin. They are

  • Marine
  • Biodiversity
  • Energy
  • Litter
  • Waste
  • Water
  • SchoolGrounds
  • Healthy Living
  • Transport
  • Global Citizenship

So, for example, at the moment the whole nursery is focusing on biodiversity with a focus on the plight of insects. We are reading bee stories, have a visit from a bee keeper in the diary, are sprucing up our bug hotel and learning all about the different bugs, building a wormery and much more.  These projects are so brilliantly educational for the children and exciting for the team too.

We focus with the children throughout the year on environmental events such as Earth Day, Water Day, Switch off fortnight, Waste Week. We have an eco-calendar which we go by for the year.

We also create our own focus weeks and invite parents and professionals to come in and talk/do activities with the children – like Ocean Awareness Week.

A year or so ago we started thinking about the impact educational establishments and in particular nurseries are having on the environment. The use of single use plastics really started to bother me and so did lots of research and started to cut them out.

We no longer use:

  • Glitter and sequins – these
  • Baby Wipes. We use soft flannels for faces and bottoms with oil to keep those bottoms and faces super soft
  • Plastic bibs. Ours are eco-friendly silicone ones
  • Shoe covers. We use heavy duty ones that are kept for a long time
  • Nappy sacks – our families purchase washable cotton waterproof bags for wet and dirty clothes
  • Plastic straws – we use reusable ones if the team want them for bubble blowing or artwork
  • Disposable Nappies. This has been a very big change
  • We use silicone bibs not plastic ones
  • Plastic crockery – cups, bowls and plates – have all been replaced by stainless steel
  • We no longer buy any plastic equipment for the nursery – we use all natural or biodegradable materials to educate the children
  • We have replaced all notice boards with cork/wooden/natural versions
  • We don’t laminate paper any more we use picture frames if we need a message to be weather proof
  • We don’t use poly pockets (slippery fish) – we use an old-fashioned hole punch instead!
  • Paper towels – they can’t be recycled
  • Pritt sticks and Velcro
  • Cellotape – masking tape used instead
  • We use recycled eco ones.
  • We use powder paints instead of squeezy paints that contain latex and are used up quickly causing a wastage of packaging
  • We don’t use throw away latex gloves, instead we use heavy duty ones that the staff wash thoroughly after each use
  • We don’t use throw away aprons. Heavy duty ones are washed after each use
  • We used recycled paper in our printer and for artwork
  • Kettle for staff. Eco water heater and cooler keeps water warm so no need for energy wastage. We also have a water cooler
  • Printer has been changed for low energy low carbon low waste option
  • We use fully biodegradable bin liners
  • We compost all the food waste we can
  • We use rechargeable batteries – no longer buy single use ones
  • We don’t use tissues to wipe noses. Instead we use soft bamboo wipes with oil – these are washed and are far kinder to snotty or encrusted faces
  • We have energy saving led bulbs throughout the nursery

We are incredibly proud of our garden cabin which has been completely covered in a biodiverse Sedum Living Roof System. It contains well over 100 different plant species to create biodiversity within an urban landscape. This is a new addition to our beautiful garden and we are excited to be able to watch it mature and attract wildlife over the coming months and years.  Green roofs improve air quality and provide habitation for wildlife. We will be watching it with anticipation with the children as it develops.