To anyone planning to set up an outdoor nursery, a few words of wisdom, ‘if at first you do not succeed …’
Growing Wild Outdoor Nursery is the realisation of the hopes, dreams, trials and tribulations of myself and fellow outdoor specialist, Lindsey Bielby. After many knock-backs, trying to set up an outdoor nursery independently, we decided to join forces and have one final attempt.
I had started a new job at Barnsley College in September 2017, teaching on the BA Early Years and set up a visit to Wigfield Farm, one of the college sites, with a view to finding an outdoor space to work with my students. As well as arranging some opportunities as planned, I couldn’t help but think what a fantastic location this would make for our nursery and so had to ask the question. To my surprise, it was met with enthusiasm and support, a refreshing change from the negativity we had come across on our journey so far.
If we then fast-forward 18 months to May 2019, through many more ups and downs, tears and tantrums, red tape and very nearly accepting another job offer, the day came when the email landed in our in box … ‘The proposed lease between Barnsley College and Growing Wild Outdoor Nursery has been approved …’
I remember going through a whole spectrum of emotions, from shock and disbelief, to excitement and giddiness and then sheer fear. This thing was now real and we had to get on and actually do it! I had stopped mentioning the progress to friends and hoped they wouldn’t ask – it had been literally years since I set out on this journey and almost embarrassing that nothing had come of my efforts.
We signed the lease on 23rd May and began work almost immediately, pretty overwhelmed by the task that lay ahead of us. Having borrowed a small amount each from the bank to cover the cost of resources, we knew that aside from the fencing and paving (thanks Andrew) the majority of the work was to be done by us (with help from some very kind family and friends). We drew out some designs, ordered tons of bark, sand and gravel and picked up our shovels.
The pictures show our progress so far. We have three interlinking areas: a large poly tunnel, with lighting, water and electrics, that will provide our shelter and warmth; a garden area with an old poly tunnel frame, that we plan to grow plants over and amongst other things, will be great to attach ropes and pulleys from, for the children to transport things; and an overgrown nature area needing just as much TLC.
We are now two months into the work, with less than three weeks to go to our open day. All systems go and lots of fun to be had!
Growing Wild Outdoor Nursery is an ECO Pioneering Centre of Inspiration – pushing the boundaries in working with the outdoors, whilst also seeking to inspire and energise others on similar journeys.
Find out more about their work and follow their progress at https://www.growingwildoutdoornursery.co.uk