Allotment playgroup- update and evaluation.

The education space at the allotment playgroup has been growing and developing rapidly throughout 2017. I’ve held 44 sessions over the spring, summer and autumn months. I’ve worked with around 30 family groups each friday over two sessions. Its been great fun. The willow den is really taking shape now but it has been plagued with wasps for the last few weeks and out-of-bounds!

This year the kids decided to plant lots of strawberries, herbs, beetroot, tomatoes, carrot, runner beans and sweet peas. We’ve also harvested apples, soft fruit, potatoes and courgettes. The children have been involved in every stage, from sowing seeds, to weeding, watering, harvesting, washing and preparing produce and of course eating it!

Its our last session this week before the winter break. I’ll be sad not to spend my Fridays at the allotment anymore, but I’ll be using the free time to try to complete my permaculture diploma before summer 2018.


The aim of this Permaculture Diploma design was very straightforward;

“To enlarge the fenced-in area of the community allotment and re-design the space where the Muddy Boots allotment playgroup meets”

I thought I should evaluate the success of my design by looking at my planned actions  against what I actually did.

  1. Enlarge the space with new fencing. YES 
  2. Have a tarp extension onto the gazebos and easy fixings for rainy day. YES but the fixing was not very easy as the tarp was multi use so couldn’t have permanent ropes attached. 
  3. Re-do the willow den – YES its taking really well
  4. Add bench and log seating inside the willow den. YES
  5. Add a wildlife area behind the shed. NO I didn’t get around to this and the neighbour was not keen on allowing ‘weeds’ to grow there and sprayed weed killer in the area – I was very sad and annoyed but for the sake of happy relationships at the allotment I had to let this go. 
  6. Add a blackboard and painting board. YES this worked well
  7. Changed the size of the sandpit to make it more affordable to fill up. YES but it does need re-filling every term and costs me £20-£0 each time so I need to factor this into my budgets. 
  8. Make a new mud kitchen out of pallets and donated kitchen items. YES but the sink only lasted 1 year and the whole kitchen will need replacing soon. 
  9. Add a removable canopy over the den area near the fence. YES I used this for shade on hot days and for a play space. I’ve just been donated some outdoor bean bags, so these will be added to the area for a quite reading and snuggling area. 
  10. Add climbers to the fence. YES lots added and establishing well.
  11. Add soft fruit to the triangular bed. YES added and establishing slowly.
  12. Add a mud pit. YES the kids adore this (parents not so keen!)
  13. Re bark the paths and area around the mud kitchen. YES but will need refreshing every year. 
  14. Add signage to explain what the planting and play features are all about. YES but again will need replacing/ updating every year due to watering.
  15. Add a waterplay area. NO, I did do waterplay and gathered lots of kit for this but did not set up a specific space for this. I’d love to create a water will in the future for pouring and collecting activities. 
  16. To allow more people to attend the group each week, thus making it more profitable and sustainable. YES this definately happened. The morning session was fully booked all year and althought the afternoon sessions were always quieter, they attracted enought people to make them worthwhile. 


Developing Muddy Boots Forest School – Wild Roots retreat day

I ran the Wild Roots women’s retreat day on June 24th 2017. I’ve been getting increasingly interested in women’s issues, earth based spirituality, health and well-being and I could see some real potential in Forest school type activity aimed at women. I decided to trial a retreat day aimed at mothers who bring their children to my Muddy Boots children’s activities.

I used Permaculture design tools and Looby’s design web to plan my activity. I did most of my planning in a sketchbook, so have photographed the pages and posted them here to show my designing.  I did not work through each anchor point in a clockwise circular order, instead I dotted around instinctively and as felt appropriate.

For ease of reading, I have grouped activity for each stage of the design web under its title heading in this blog post as we move around in a clockwise motion. Please bear in mind that this does not represent work in chronological order. For example, I brainstormed activity ideas before I decided on a pattern for the day – obviously! Not the other way around as it appears if you read each anchor point in order.

I have included photos from the retreat day scattered throughout the post to illustrate what actually occurred on the day.



I’ve found it useful to try to sum up my vision in a sentence. so here goes…

My vision for this design was to create an event for women that combined a relaxing and inspiring retreat day with Forest school ideas and activities. 

wild rootsThis is the flyer/poster I created for the day, the activities on offer should show a flavour of my aims for the day.

IMG_8145I used permaculture ethics; earth care, people care, fair share, to help me create my vision for the day.

IMG_8162I brainstormed my aims for the design which were quite wide-ranging. I ensured this design fulfilled multiple functions for me on both a personal and professional level.

IMG_8167I considered whether to try to take part in someone else’s festival/event or whether to set up on my own. I did a PNI to consider this and talked it over with a few friends and my husband. In the end I decided to go it alone on this occasion as I had the location and the potential clients available. I would however like to bring this type of event to a festival in the future.

IMG_8166I attempted to make my vision more achievable by setting myself some SMART goals. Looking back I can see that these goals were not SMART at all. They were just a bunch of really quite vague goals! I’ll  look again at these later in the reflection phase of the design cycle.


I see helps and limits as two side of a coin, so it made sense for me to link these two stages together.

IMG_8146I began by doing a brief brainstorm as a survey, I looked at my boundaries, resources, and considered who the intended clients were for the event. I then used PASTE to think more about specifics of the site.

IMG_8156The six thinking hats activity really helped me to consider my vision, helps and limits in more detail.


It was really important to me to use natural patterns in my planning and in how I planned the flow of the day. I spent quite a while considering this and finally settled on using the moon cycle – something that I’m really interested in following in my own life. 


IMG_8151IMG_8158IMG_8159I considered how the waxing and waning of the moon could relate to the feel of the activity planned in the event.


9.30-10AM Arrivals,

Fruit/ herbal tea, coffee and raw chocs

10-10.30 Welcome circle

Walk to the meadow

10.30- 11.00 30 mins energizing yoga sequence and


11.00-11.30 Foraging walk around the woods
11.30 – 12.30 Making oils and balms

Soup making on the campfire

Flower mandalas

12.30-1.00 Shared lunch

Time to rest in hammocks and bell tent

Inspiring books available to read

1-1.30 New moon intention setting circle or extended lunch break
1.30-2.30 Making flower mandalas

Dream catchers

Hapa Zoma

2.30-3.15 onwards 45 mins Relaxing yoga sequence Soundscape

Gong meditation and yoga nidra

3.30 onwards. Elderflower cordial and foodie treats

Evaluations and session ends


IDEASIMG_8152I brainstormed potential activity ideas and then looked at some of them in more detail, then analysed them against permaculture principles before deciding which to choose.

IMG_8154IMG_8155IMG_8153Some of the activities I eventually decided upon for the day are shown in the photographs below. 

IMG_6840Foraging for medicinal and edible greens



I created sheets listing plants we could forage for and their edible and medicinal uses. Click the links to download the sheets.

IMG_6819Yoga in the meadow

IMG_6826Gong meditation and soundscapes to accompany our yoga

IMG_6848Making herbal lip balm and massage oil



Click the links to see the recipe and method sheets.

IMG_6913Making willow dream catchers

IMG_6894Making flower mandalas

PRINCIPLESIMG_8149I chose four permaculture principles at random and brainstormed which questions, thoughts and ideas they raised for me. 

I talked about Permaculture during the event, mentioned the ethics and principles and brought along lots of Permaculture books for the reading tent to signpost people towards further learning about Permaculture. I invited my local Permaculture friends to attend the day and Anna B came along. I mentioned her and the local Permaculture courses during the intro to the day, and directed people to enquire with Anna if they wanted to learn more about Permaculture. 

INTEGRATIONIMG_8168IMG_8169I wanted to ensure this design was fully integrated into my life and fulfilled both professional and personal functions for me. I thought hard about what I wanted the functions of the design to be. I tried to find multiple elements for each important function to ensure that nothing was missed out. 

I also wanted this design to make me feel more integrated with other people. I normally work on my own, which can feel quite isolating. So an important element for my professional development was working with others. I managed to get five excellent partners on board; a yoga teacher, sound meditation facilitator, an artisan bread baker, a raw food maker and another Forest school leader. More details about each of them can be found on the Muddy Boots website page about the retreat day here

I also wanted the event to integrate women with each other. Magic happens when women gather and I wanted to facilitate that magic! IMG_6899IMG_6859

ACTIONIMG_8163The action phase of the design web, for me, is all about the practicalities. How to get from ideas to action, how to make things happen. So this is where I sort out the nuts and bolts, actions plans, finances, timescales etc.

I had six months run up to actioning this design, so quick decision-making and good planning were key. There were moment when I really floundered and wondered whether I’d bitten off more than I could chew, but the support of my team proved invaluable. It was lovely working with other people, I feel I was lucky in who i’d chosen to work with and we worked well together and supported each other. I’d love to work with these people again in the future. I’ve already turned down 1 opportunity to run this event again as it would mean doing so without some of the team. I’ll try to schedule in another retreat day for summer 2018 and have everyone on board again.

Finances – One of the goals for this day was to run a profitable event.  The financial break down follows.

INCOME  TOTAL £425 ( £25 per person X 17  attendees)                 



£50 Jodie H food

£15 Dave B bread

£20 Other food and drink purchased

£84 Jodie K Forest school assistant

£75 oils and balms activity materials

£20 plants for activities

£25 Dream catcher activity materials

£20 Flower mandala/ Hapa Zoma activity materials

£7 Facebook promotion

£24 basic session costs, photocopying, laminating etc

BALANCE £85 (£425 – £340 )

So I was able to pay myself the balance left after all expenditure had been paid out. This was just £85 or £9.44 per hour for 9 hours work. Not a lot of money for working 9 hours  (8am-5pm) on the day of the event, not to mention the many days work I’d put in the planning. So this is definitely not sustainable or repeatable. My time and hard work is worth far more than that. Normally I pay myself and my assistant a minimum of £12 per hour. I honoured my assistant’s £12 per hour rate but couldn’t afford this amount for myself – which was rather gutting. 

 The goal of needing the event to pay for itself was met in part, thanks to the yoga teacher and sound artist offering their skills for free.  I’d definitely need to reduce costs and charge more if the event is repeated. I’d need to pay them next time and I need to make far more money to pay for the hours I put in for planning and preparation. 


MOMENTUMIMG_8161IMG_6861I tried to find a balance of moments of momentum and moments of pause during the retreat day. The quest for balance is something that I’m deeply involved in and getting better at! On reflection, there was too much activity during the day and the quiet moments I’d hoped to build in got lost in the quest to keep everything running to the timetable. 

The momentum in the run up to the event was great, I felt very motivated to run this event and excited to explore a new area of work. The tight timescale also kept me moving. After the event, initially I felt great momentum to schedule in another one straight away. After a few attempts to co-ordinate diaries with my team, it proved too tight to fit in another retreat day before the colder weather came in. One potential date in September did look good for a while, but I was offered work at a local festival for the day. So this seemed too good an opportunity to turn down.

So the momentum that we’d built up was lost and to date, we’ve not yet scheduled in another day, but I hope to do so soon and get something in the diary for summer 2018.


During the event we had a ritual fire, set new moon intentions and wrote a list of things we appreciated on one leaf and things that no longer served us on another leaf. The things we wanted to rid from our lives we threw into the fire and the things we wanted to claim we hung from the trees.

I have thought about what I appreciate after the event too and created the list below.

  • I appreciate the help, love, support and skills gifted to this event by everyone involved in the running of the day.
  • I appreciate that friends, family and strangers all booked and paid to attend the event.
  • I appreciate the faith shown in me by people who attended the event, especially those people who’d never been to a Muddy Boots event before.
  • I appreciate the woods for accepting us into their space for the day with welcome.
  • I appreciate that mother earth left me a Jay feather to find when I first arrived on site, a good omen for the day
  • I appreciate the weather being kind on the day, still, dry and warm.


To reflect on this event I began by, looking back at my goals and doing PNI analysis for each goal. I decided to separate some of my goals out, to make them more specific as I’ve learnt the benefit of doing this from other evaluations I’ve carried out during my diploma pathway. 

To create an event that teaches women new skills The retreat day taught lots of skills, but I have no way of knowing whether these skills were ‘new’ to the participants or not, other than info gathered anecdotally during conversations had during the course of the day. I could have included a question in the evaluation each participant completed about new skills.
To create an event that teaches women about nature We talked lots about the nature specific to the woods where the day was held, what was growing and what we could use these plants for. This goal needed to be more specific. I would have liked to provide more quite times for the participants to soak up being in nature without so much activity to pre-occupy their minds.
To create an event that teaches women about the patterns in mother earth I showed images of the moon cycle and explained how this had influenced my planning for the day. We chatted about moon cycle/ menstrual cycle links and peoples experiences of these. This goal needed to be more specific in mentioning the moon cycle.
For the event to be profitable Yes the event made a small profit if you do not factor in paying myself I worked for well below minimum wage and many hours unpaid to make this event a success. I gained far more positive outputs than just financial outputs from putting on this event. These less tangible profits are not measured but they are plentiful and make up in part for the lack of financial profit.
For the event to be repeatable Yes I feel I can repeat this event successfully and learn many lessons from this first event. I’ve learnt lots and know what changes to make to make the event better – mainly, charge more, make the event longer and don’t try to do so much in a short timescale!
For Muddy Boots to explore the expansion into Forest school activity aimed at adults Yes this was a great first trial into working with adults. I really enjoyed working with women and feel this is something I’d like to explore further. The event excluded men, maybe I need to do a lads and Dads day or similar to redress the balance at some point? I’ve tweaked my Saturday Forest school sessions in reflection to the retreat event. They are now marketed as ‘Family forest adventure days’ and far more adults attend which is a big positive.
For me to learn new FS skills I attended oils and balms workshop and two foraging days in preparation for these workshops in the retreat day. So yes, I did learn new skills. I’m really keen to learn and teach more about foraging and now try to include this in my sessions whenever possible and suitable.
For me to learn new teaching methods The new moon circle was new to me. I didn’t feel particularly confident in leading the more ‘woo woo’ new age bits. I loved it, but it’s all new for me. It would be good in the future for me to attend some events like this as a participant to gain ideas from more experiences teachers
To explore new business partnerships Yes I worked with new people
To reach new audiences Yes 8 of the women who attended (out of 17) were brand new to Muddy Boots. I hadn’t expected so many new people would attend, A great new yield and 5 of them have gone on to bring their children/ grand children to my regular classes.
To create a diploma design Yes this event led to a diploma design for my portfolio The fact that I knew I had to write this event up for my portfolio led me to improve my planning techniques and approach the event more thoughtfully.
To spend time with like-minded women I certainly had a lot in common with many of the women who attended. Another vague goal!
To strengthen connections The event strengthened my connections with the people on my team and made new connections with many of the participants. Many of who have stayed in touch and/or attended more Muddy Boots events.
To challenge myself to explore my edges. I have furthered my knowledge of herbal and wild foods and this is possibly leading me onto doing another of my diploma designs on the subject. I explored teaching methods and subjects that were new to me Another vague goal!

I was lucky to have another student of Permaculture attend the retreat day event. Anna very kindly agreed to do me a PNI reflection after the event.

Muddy Boots Womens Retreat June 2017 PNI from Anna B

Positive Negative Interesting
Outdoor venue easy to find, good directions, concise and informative emails regarding content. Good parking. Wild wee. This made me giggle. Mention to take your tissues home with you if you do wild wee
Good signage once in the wood Dog walkers and other park users stopped frequently to read the signs – but didn’t learn anything about what was going on Use this to promote your courses to the local community – tear off strips/phone number/website etc.
Framing the day and mention of permaculture Explain briefly what the three ethics are rather than only naming them Thanks for the mention – a couple of people asked me more about P and graceworks and hopefully I’ve encouraged one person to investigate the courses on offer
All activities are optional I wasn’t clear when some activities had finished (morning forage) and the next activities had begun. Not sure if the hand raising is too formal for this type of course, or perhaps a chime of a small bell/cymbals would work?
Provision of quiet secluded reading space Great range of books
Provision of hammocks to relax in Lovely to lie in them and rest
Provision of hot and cold drinks and snacks available all day Label the morning and afternoon snacks, and why they are special Great to be introduced to raw chocolate snacks – (would love this ladies contact details)
Emily being available to meet & greet, and do insurance/risk assessment document Emily being behind the drinks/food table – position yourself closer to the entrance so you are the first contact, then send people in to the tea-table, and indicate where is a good place to put your bag
Morning circle – lovely to sit down for a change and listen to other people’s reasons for being there – nice adaptation of more permie mc’s
Morning yoga – really nice to do this outdoors in an alternative location to the base camp. Adored the scents used, and the music. Not that confident in the yoga teacher’s skills
Forage walk – lovely to split into smaller groups, and have an ID sheet. Naughty sunshine the previous week making some things on the ID sheet “go over”
Lotions and lip salve activity – really really enjoyed this, great to make something to take home with me. Slightly crowded table – perhaps stagger the participants with other activities, or split the activity into chunks so that all who want to play a part in making
Lunch – adore a shared lunch and potential to try new and interesting dishes. Great to have some soup made from foraged items The buckets were a little unstable for us larger ladies Suggest people bring a folding picnic chair with them unless happy to sit on the floor (not all physically able to do so)
Afternoon activities – Lovely to try new art forms Use of sticky back plastic for mandals – perhaps making them on the floor (and biodegrade), or using PVA to stick to pieces of recycled card or recycled plastic gels (arrghh still plastic I know!)
Afternoon yoga – really lovely to do some more yoga to close the day But…perhaps a meditation session instead as this felt a bit too physical
Pack up – top idea to ask people to do 1 thing – it is the “1” that gets people to join in and then sometimes they do 2 or 3. I hope this helped you pack up a bit quicker Even though I brought too much with me that in the end I didn’t need, I would have been happy to carry one bag or a trolley’s worth to the edge of the park, or your house when leaving.



I am now in the pause phase of this design. I’m taking time out from it, reflecting on lessons learnt and considering my next move. I’m glad to be able to take this time before needing to jump straight in again and run another one.

I’m learning lessons from nature, as following the autumn pattern of letting go, resting and renweing before I re-commence planning in the springtime.

UPDATE I’m really excited to reveal that . have another women’s retreat day planned for 30th June 2018. I will be working with the same partners as last year along with a few new link ups. I’ve began to advertise the day already and have had lots of expressions of interest. Its looking like the event will be sold out and hopefully more profitable this year. I’ve learnt so much from doing this design and will make best use of this knowledge in planning the next event.

Using Permaculture in my Forest School leader training

In late 2014 I decided the time had come to do my Level 3 Forest School leader training and add Forest school activity to my Muddy Boots business. This training would allow me to set up my own Forest school. I undertook training in early 2015 and wrote in numerous blog posts including here.

I used Permaculture in a variety of ways throughout my training and wondered if I could somehow link my training and my Permaculture diploma. I never did write up a full design for my FS training, but I have included a few mini designs here to show how interlinked my thinking had become.

IMG_8140I brainstormed how I could use my permaculture design skills to help me in different areas of my Forest school training.

IMG_8139 (1)I used the action- learning cycle to help plan a route through my training course.

IMG_8132I used Looby’s Design web to help plan a Forest School taster event that I ran in local woodland. Providing this event for free for the borough council was a first step in obtaining long-term regular use of council woodland where I currently run my Forest school activity.


IMG_8134I used the action learning cycle again to plan a programme of six practical sessions that I needed to run as part pf my training course.

IMG_8143I applied permaculture thinking and PNI analysis to consideration of finding a woodland site in which to run my six practical sessions.

IMG_8142I considered patterns, flow and rhythm in my session planning.

IMG_8144I used planning for real techniques in my termly session planning


The training course was lots of fun but hard work. I ran my six sessions for the course in the autumn of 2015 and was granted permission to run another block of six sessions in the council woodland. Its all been a great success, the council are very supportive and have allowed me to continue and I’ve been working there 2 or 3 days a week ever since.

Influences September ’16- February ’18

The summer is drawing to a close and I can feel autumn sneaking up behind me, so its time to re-direct my attention towards my Permaculture diploma. Writing up my designs is always a job for the colder months and I’m looking forward to cracking on with my diploma again with a hope of completing the last few design write ups over the winter and accrediting in the late spring 2018. So here is  a round-up of what has influenced my diploma pathway over the last year.

Training and learning

  • I completed my IPA in January 2017 (interim portfolio assessment) five of my 10 diploma designs were signed off by my tutor with minimum changes required. This was a big relief and very re-assuring that I was on the right track.
  • I am undertaking a wild food mentor online course with ‘Eat weeds’. Its teaching me more about how to identify and use wild foods. This is greatly helpful for my Forest school business, as I’ve began to include lots more foraging and campfire cooking activities.
  • I attended a two-day wild food course with a local expert. We went on wild food walks, foraged and learnt new cooking techniques. This was in the spring, I was hoping to do a further autumn course, but unfortunately it is fully booked – hopefully I’ll attend next year.
  • I signed up as a member of the ‘Radical self-love coven’ and have enjoyed a year-long online course into all things witchy. We’ve studied spell-work, numerology, crystals, feng shui, astrology and tarot. I’m loving it all.
  • I’ve been learning lots about the moon phases, women’s cycles and earth based spirituality. I’m a member of Lisa Lister’s ‘wake the witches’ group and numerous other useful forums.
  • I’ve attended some moon goddess training and would love to go on and learn more. I track the moon cycle and my menstrual cycle and am discovering some useful insights.
  • I’ve attended lots of doTerra essential oils workshops and use these oils everyday to support my health and general wellbeing.
  • I have attended four Forest school training days. Two general skills development days and an oils and balms workshop and a willow weaving day.
  • I’m still a member of the online group ‘The balance club’ This helps me to keep focussed on my health and wellbeing.


  • I attended the Permaculture AGM at Graceworks in November 2016
  • I attended the Permaculture diploma accreditation event for Sarah Spencer in April 2017 and I was on her peer review panel.
  • Tomorrow I am attending the Permaculture diploma accreditation event for Sam Woods and I am on her peer review panel.
  • I led tours around the allotment site where I run Muddy Boots allotment playgroup for the East Midlands and the Britain in bloom judges in summer 2017
  • I took part in numerous muddy runs
  • I attend zumba, yoga and gym classes on a weekly basis.
  • We took a three-week camping holiday in August


My bookshelf and bedside table are still filling up with books about spirituality, witchy paths, hypnosis, wild foods, goddesses, visualisation, female empowerment, self-love and of course gardening and love of the woods. I’m currently reading ‘The mists of Avalon’ , Lisa lister’s ‘Witch’ and Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ classic ‘women who run with the wolves’ My poor husband is a little freaked out!


  • I’ve been running Forest school every Thursday and monthly on Saturdays.
  • The allotment playgroup has been running March- October every friday.
  • I plan and prep my Muddy Boots work every Wednesday
  • In 2016 I started running Forest school birthday partiesand half term children’s Forest school events.
  • I ran a women’s forest school retreat day in June. I will be writing this up in more details as its to form my next diploma design.
  • I took Muddy Boots to a local festival, the edible forest festival in September where I ran campfire cooking events, an epic mud kitchen, den making activities and a reading tent.
  • My colleague Jodie has now set up her own Forest school, I’ve assisted her at this on a few occasions and am glad to be able to return the favour after she’s helped me ut so much over the years.

Muddy Boots garden re-design, update on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017

Instead of writing a wordy post explaining how the enlarged and re-designed allotment playgroup space worked, I thought I’d post some pictures for 2016 season instead!


I asked group members about how they felt about the new space and got a few lovely quotations.

X and I love it! It affords much more space for the little ones to move around and explore, with separate sections/beds that emphasise the growing plants/fruit/veg. 🙂

So much more space to run around in, my two love it, especially the larger willow den. It will be so magical next year when it’s all green and leafy. 

The mud pit and the sandpit are a big hit for M, she doesn’t stop talking about Muddy Boots all week! I love being able to chat with my new MB friends while she is happily occupied. Thanks Emily, its fab. 

I have a Facebook page which is updated weekly, you can view it here. Muddy Boots. I also have a website which gets a monthly update. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m enjoying it. Muddy Boots website

2017 planning is in progress. I plan on running 44 sessions across the year at the allotment, 2 sessions each Friday from March till october. I’ve already got a long waiting list of people wanting to book in. Exciting times!

Muddy Boots garden re-design. Maintainance plan

everyone gardening

I have now ran 8 sessions at the allotment and its been lovely. I find the sessions challenging due to how busy I am, but very enjoyable. The set ups and pack up are taking a long time, but I am hoping that as I develop strategies it will get easier. I also need to start being OK with asking the group members to help more! I wrote a maintainance plan in April and have just updated it with progress made to date. I have tried to keep it just for activity directly on site, rather than getting too bogged down in the detail of the day-to-day running of the group, however the two things are so interlinked that this is not easy.


April Complete all tasks on the implementation plan ready for session 1 on April 15th Done on time
Run Spring season sessions on 15,22, 29 April and complete all prep and admin associated with these sessions. Done
Reflect and review how the free-play activities are working. Do I need to make any changes? Sandpit will need refilling every season, so get another few bags of sand over half term. Mud kitchen may need some introducing to the group, plan some activities around this. Loose parts materials are going down well.
May Run sessions on 6, 13, 20, 27 May and complete all prep and admin associated with these sessions. In progress
Mid May take summer bookings from group members then offer any spare places to waiting list then do publicity via website and FB if required. In progress
Build in weeding, watering and planting activities to my sessions. Aim to plant peas, potatoes, radish, sunflowers and flowers with the groups during May All planned in and some planting already achieved
Visit the site during half term to tidy mud kitchen, weed, water and tidy shed and refill sandpit  
June Summer season begins, run sessions on 10, 17, 24 June  
  Harvesting strawberries, currants, salads etc  
  Weeding and watering  
July Run sessions on 1, 8, 15 July  
  Harvesting beans, peas, grapes  
  Weeding and watering  
  Take autumn bookings before the end of term. Will probably need to advertise for autumn, as MB will lose quite a few members when they start school in September.  
  Evaluations and reflections with people leaving the group.  
August Summer break- need to go regularly to the allotment to keep on top of the weeding, watering and harvesting. Maybe invite group members to join me for a gardening day towards the end of the summer? Share the workload of prepping for autumn season  
  MB involvement in the Allotment open day? 6th Aug? Date TBC, will I be on holiday then?  
Septembe Autumn term begins, Run sessions on 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Sept  
  Harvest blackberries, potatoes,  
October Run sessions on 7, 14 Sept  
  Autumn celebration event  
  Planting spring bulbs  
  Stock check the shed and tidy up ready for autumn-winter closed season.  
  Documentation, reflection, planned tweaks for next year  

holding ladybug

Muddy Boots garden re-design

I managed to take a few pictures this week of the site all prepared for my session. I am really pleased with the way it has turned out, the extra space is lovely and I’ve had some great comments from attendees. The den, sandpit, digging area and mud kitchen are being well used, so much so that I am having to reduce my ambitions for structured activities to be achieved each session, as the kids are not keen to be dragged away from these free-play activities!

Forest School skills day

This weekend I attended a Forest school skills development day in a local woodland. I have been to a few of these days before and always loved them. They are a great chance to spend a day in the woods, playing with new ideas, trying out unfamiliar tools and cooking lunch on a campfire. I learnt a lot from the other practitioners and have honed my skills at lighting Kelly Kettles in the pouring rain! The photos show a selection of the things that we got up to.

My Forest school sessions start after the Easter holidays. I will doing two weekly sessions for pre-school kids and their parents and a monthly saturday session for primary aged children. I am also doing two weekly allotment playgroup sessions and teaching photography every monday, so its going to be a busy few months leading up to the summer break! I can’t wait to get started. The build up is always hard, much of the work is front loaded, getting kit and sites sorted, advertising and administrating bookings and preparing my sessions. I enjoy every stage, but actually leading sessions is what I like best and its almost time now!


Emergency shelter out of a tarp


3 legged stool


Stick pictures frame, I thought these could be good for throwing a ball through too


rope spiders web


low balance beam


base camp set up to cook in


Wild garlic bread


Shave horse




Gypsy rose


Gear shelter


High shelter

Muddy Boots ‘Wild wood’

One of the reasons that I haven’t been blogging as often this year is because I am busy training to be a Forest School Leader. I am loving the process and the whole concept of Forest School. I have always felt very at home in the woods and am loving introducing other people to this gentle way of interacting with each other and the natural world and seeing people appreciating the wonders of our natural environment.

Yesterday I ran my first ever Forest School taster session. It was so much fun! Ten families enjoyed a morning in the woods, making nature crowns, reading The Gruffolo, making dens for woodland creatures and Gruffolo caves for themselves. We rounded off the morning with hot drinks made on the Kelly Kettles and a picnic in the dappled shade of the hazel trees. I will be taking bookings soon for my regular Forest School sessions which start in September. I am loving my career path right now!

Here are ten photos from the day. IMG_7174 IMG_7170 IMG_7179 IMG_7224 IMG_7222 IMG_7238 IMG_7223 IMG_7211 IMG_7196 IMG_7185