Community: West End Edibles

Thanks to funding from Creative West End and Creative Civic Change, our West End Edibles project is go!

The project aims to bring the people of Morecambe’s West End together to grow and share food in publicly accessible spaces. As well as making healthy food freely available for all, West End Edibles is promoting the learning and sharing of growing skills, community connections and wellbeing.

So far, the project has connected with the Friends of Alexandra Square group, with plans to contribute herbs and fruit bushes to the park, and The Good Things Collective’s local Micro Gardens project.

Growing Packs of a range of organic vegetables are being distributed to West End residents who would like to grow food at home, or begin growing seedlings to plant out in public spaces in the area for all to enjoy.

To request your own free Growing Pack, email Amy at secretgardenmorecambe@gmail.com

Highlights from a sunny September

What an exciting month we have had here at The Secret Garden Childcare. We have welcomed new friends, harvested arm-fulls of our allotment’s first-season vegetables, and had lots of fun observing the summer tail off and the autumn begin.

The truly magical thing about nature-centred learning is that we are blessed with new surprises, resources and things to explore every day in our outdoor classroom. No two weeks, days or moments are the same!

As Margaret McMillan wrote, “the best classroom and the richest cupboard is roofed only by the sky”. Absolutely!

Rising to a lock-down challenge

In response to the Government’s recent request for key worker childcare provision during the coronavirus pandemic, The Secret Garden Childcare has vacancies throughout the week for the children of key workers.

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These vacancies – for children aged 18 months to 11 years – are open to support key workers to continue in their essential roles when they don’t have childcare at home. For more information, call Amy on 07397 159 761.

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside…

The Secret Garden Childcare has packed its bucket, spade and seaweed identification book, and is preparing to open in Morecambe Bay!

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Please bear with us while we get our setting ready to offer outstanding nature-based learning and care to the children and families of Morecambe. We are busy finalising plans for our new outdoor classroom, planning activities and adventures that make the most of the brilliant landscape and wildlife Morecambe has to offer, and training ourselves up to offer the best Beach School experiences. We can’t wait to open our doors for visits and look-arounds, and to meet you, Morecambe families! Watch this space for more details on look-around sessions in the coming months.

“Who do you think would win a race between a tortoise and a sloth?”

I wonder…

At The Secret Garden Childcare we love to wonder, and to wander, and truly embrace the everyday wonderful in the natural world that surrounds us.

In a boundless act of wondering, our imagination is free to explore limitless possibilities; the world can be magical, fantastical, hilarious and awesome – as it should be for every child; as it should be for all of us. In our wondering, we take time to explore every possibility (an impossibility) to come up with new stories, ideas and solutions to our questions. The ability to wonder makes us all inventors, storytellers, scientists and philosophers.

“Where did the frost go?”

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“How did this pea plant get here?”

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“Who put these ferns here?”

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“Who do you think would win a race between a tortoise and a sloth?”

I wonder…

 

“The plant drank up all the water!”

In the first week of the new year, the children haven’t wasted any time getting The Secret Garden ready for spring and its visitors. Every year we welcome new life to the garden: last year we watched in wonder as the resident blue tits trained their chicks to pull seeds from the feeders, and we were aghast as nests of baby spiders ‘exploded’ into life between the deck rails.

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The children and I learn so much from the creatures that crawl and fly by us as we play, not least our own role in supporting them as part of a healthy and diverse garden eco-system (which usually involves just leaving them well alone!). So, with a view to making The Secret Garden an even more inviting and hospitable place for our little friends, we decided to create a small pond for the frogs we know reside under the rocks, and anything else that might want to splash along with them.

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The pond was carefully and joyously planned. We researched in books, watched YouTube tutorials created by children just like us, gathered the resources and divided up the tasks. What might we learn? Selection and safe use of tools, how to predict and measure space and capacity, skills of listening to and taking turns with our friends. We didn’t foresee any problems. We got this.

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The plot was decided on and measured, tools were chosen, soil was dug, and rocks and pond plant were transported one by one across the garden in our little red wheelbarrows. The pond was taking shape! What’s the last thing we’ll need? Rain water! We hunted for full buckets, bowls and pots, and worked out how to transport them to the pond without losing the water. SPLOSH! And TA-DAA! Our new pond.

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Proud and muddy, the children busied themselves with more pouring in the Mud Kitchen. And, as we headed in for tea, we took one least admiring look at the pond. But… hang on… it’s DRY?!?

“Look! The plant drank up all the water!” a child gasps.

“No, there’s a hole!” says another. “Can we fix it?”

I’m sure we can. And tomorrow we’ll find out how.

What might we learn? That not everything works first time and, not only is that okay, it’s often cause for a collective head-scratch and a good giggle; that there can be pleasure in perseverance. Particularly if it means we can get wet and muddy again!

So long, Summer; hello, Autumn!

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Rowan Leaves Laid Around a Hole, Andy Goldsworthy, 1987

Here in Manchester we have enjoyed the full, glorious gamut of the British summertime weather: brooding drizzly days, lively showers of bouncing rain and, more recently, plenty of bright sunshine!

But things are about to get really interesting, as a summer of varied weather – great for trees – means an autumn of the richest, most diverse colours. We can’t wait for all the exciting activities and deep learning opportunities afforded by a crisp and beautiful autumn. From games of conkers to kicking up leaves, what was your favourite outdoor autumn activity as a child?

New outdoor kindergarten for Wales

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Some great news for South Wales’s children and families: a full-time outdoor kindergarten – mirroring many of the principles here at The Secret Garden Childcare – is due to open next year. This article on the setting outlines many of the benefits of outdoor, nature-based learning for young children. As us Welshies say, “bendigedig!”

 

Garden guests

Despite our rather miserable Manchester weather, this week The Secret Garden has welcomed lots of wildlife! Ladybirds are loving the flowers, the bumble bees are at the roses and, this morning, we found this very hungry caterpillar nibbling at the lettuce.

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We are continuing to plant wildlife-friendly plants to encourage a diversity of wildlife into The Secret Garden. Hopefully we can find something that they prefer eating to our lettuce!