Friday, 5 February 2016

Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup
Wild play and outdoor learning as nature intended

Every Friday from April till October I have been running Muddy Boots Allotment Playgroup on the community allotment site. Muddy Boots has ran for the past four years and has been gaining in popularity each year. The group is aimed at families with pre-schoolers and up to 7 year old home-schooled children. Family groups who attended Muddy Boots have planted seeds and seedlings, nurtured plants and learnt about weeding and watering. We have enjoyed lots of natural art and craft activities, been on bug-hunts and learnt about the importance of growing food organically. We touched on the ethics of Permaculture and enjoyed spending time outdoors every Friday learning from each other and Mother Earth.

We have harvested lettuce, tomatoes, runner beans, red currants, strawberries, grapes and apples. We prepared and ate these in lots of fun ways. Some examples include eating a fruit rainbow, making funny faces out of food, apple bobbing and making strawberry and chia seed jam.
Children harvested and ate organic, seasonal produce within sight of where it was grown. An important part of each session is our shared lunch or snack-time. Participants are invited to 'bring and share' foods to eat with the group and swap ideas about healthy eating.

I ran 25 sessions this year. Each session lasted two hours and was attended by an average of ten families. In total 27 family groups, which equates to 48 people have attended a Muddy Boots session, with the majority attending multiple times. This year I expanded into running two sessions each Friday which allowed me to inspire more people to get growing and playing outdoors with their children.
The group will now take a break over the colder months. During this time I will be expanding and re-designing the education area of the community allotment. The group was lucky enough to receive a small grant from 
The Leicester Food Plan which was used to purchase books, seeds, art and craft materials and fencing to expand the education area. We will begin to meet again in the Spring.

I am really passionate about introducing children to food growing at a young age. These are our future farmers, ecologists, agriculturalists and nature lovers. It is vital that we nurture them!

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