Our Allotment at The Weald is one of the most unique features of our nursery and another central aspect to our Nature Kids Project. Many nurseries dip their toes into a bit of growing, but we are currently the only one in our area with a large offsite allotment. We believe the process of actively taking part in growing our food is an essential skill for our future generations. We have an ‘Allotment Coordinator’ – Jennifer, who looks after the plot and creates wonderful activities with the team that tie in with their development and the EYFS. She is passsionate (and qualified) about gardening and teaching our lucky children about the wonders of nature. She has a little girl, Evie, at Young Friends and is loved by both the team and children.
As part of their routines, children in our two eldest groups, the Baboons and Gorillas – spend a half day (winter) and a full day (Spring and Summer), learning all about not only growing, but mother nature in general. There are currently carrots, beans, cabbage, kale, potatoes, salads of all descriptions, tomatoes, onions, garlic and much much more growing. The children begin to understand the importance of reusing and recycling as they collect water from the rain butt and put waste into the compost bin.
We also have an outdoor classroom, bug hotel, herb and flower gardens and more. It’s their time away from the regular nursery week, and plays a major part in establishing a love for nature and the environment. The children take pride from growing their own for the Nursery kitchen and cooking activities, and learn about planting, weeding, composting, native wildlife and biodiversity, and recycling. They also do ‘Forest School’ inspired activities. However, often they just play.
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. There is an allotment shop run by Pete and Mo, and a few friendly dogs (on leads) who stop by our plot for a mingle. The children have such an amazing time when they go up and they learn not just to dig and make a mess but to enjoy and know about growing for life, and appreciating and contributing to the planet’s well-being. There is a constant open invitation to our parents/carers to come and spend the day with us.
We are also using the allotment for focused biodiversity projects, particularly our dwindling bee population. Our Young Friends children learn about the importance of all our creatures, great and small.
Our allotment is a truly special place.