Today we went to Wetherell Children's Centre's Green Fingers Garden Project for the first time. The centre, which backs on to Victoria Park, has a great spiral garden packed with things to inspire and interest children, including a story den made out of willow, herbs, strawberries, a scarecrow and a compost heap.
The staff were very friendly and welcoming, and HackneyBoy absolutely loved the session, grabbing a wheelbarrow straightaway and getting stuck in with some weeding. I was really impressed with how the project workers treated the children with respect and engaged all their senses pointing out colours, smells, spiders and snails, and so on.
When we got there a number of child-friendly tools were laid out. After the weeding, the children made a picture with leaves and flowers, and then had "snack" and a story (Give Me My Yam) in the den. I could see from HackneyChild's face and the way he responded to the project workers that he was having a great time.
I hardly like to big up this session as when we went there were only two children, which was great for HackneyBoy who can be quite antisocial (luckily he took a real shine to the other boy who he has seen around before, and kept asking where he was going afterwards). But obviously it would be better to reach out to more children. The project workers said the sessions used to be crowded but now they take place in the early afternoon when most children are napping - also, the weather was threatening rain all day although in the end it just lightly showered.
All in all the Green Fingers project is a great example of the best that a children's centre can offer. And I gather the garden either already offers or will be offering sessions to local nurseries and schools so it is definitely reacing more than the two there today!