Welcome to the first Forest School blog of 2014, and may we wish you a (very belated!) healthy and happy New Year, especially to our new parents joining the Free Rangers family. Before we get started, we must apologise for the lack of blog posts recently as our website has been full to the brim, meaning we had to do a little premature spring cleaning to make room! Last week and this week has thrown some pretty cold, wet and windy weather our way, but we've definitely braced the worst of it in favour of getting outside! The past week has seen our little Rangers helping to establish a new hedgerow in our rather bedraggled looking Forest School paddock. The reason? Not only will it disguise and 'soften' the bottom fence line, it will also provide an excellent habitat for a host of birds, insects and animals. These saplings were from the Woodland Trust, offered as part of their Tree Planting initiative to restore woodland and hedgerow that have disappeared from our landscape thanks largely to 2 World Wars, tree diseases and modern farming techniques and practice. We received two huge boxes with 420 saplings to plant. No rest for the wicked...
The children have helped to achieve this by rolling out weed matting onto a stretch of cleared earth (thanks Vince), and then hammering a wooden steak through slits to create a hole for the saplings to sit. We had an interesting mix of Rowan, Hawthorne, Cherry and Dogwood, which will provide an excellent variety of shapes, textures and colours throughout the seasons. Once the holes were createde, we talked about the different parts of the saplings, in particular the roots and what they were for, and why the earth around the roots was a different colour to that in the ground. Then the Forest Schoolers carefully placed the plants into the earth, pushing them firmly into the holes and covered with extra mud to make them secure.
The hardest part of this session was trying to prevent the children from the mud. The ground was churned up from the constant activity of this week, and proved too much to resist for some, so it was important to keep them focussed for a while before letting them loose! Despite the distractions the children did excellently and we completed a huge length of successfully planted hedgerow. This hasn't been the first tree planting session at Free Rangers, and I'm sure won't be the last. We hope in the near future to arrange another "BigDig" day, but we will keep you posted on dates. In the meantime should any of you parents like to come on a Forest School session to see what they get up to, do feel free to get in contact with me (aka Red Fox) and we can arrange a time for you to come.