charity, create, education, gardening, gardening with kids, key stage 2, kids, life

Q&A with a community gardener

Q&A with a community gardener

Hannah and Kevin

Community gardener and founder of yourspace.sutton Kevin Plicio runs local community garden nursery Seears Park Nursery in Sutton. This nursery runs on pure volunteer manpower and community spirit, running training courses and therapeutic activities in a calming and peaceful environment. He has been running the beautiful non-profit nursery for almost six years, transforming it from a run-down nursery to a social and stunning community hub which has just recently been opened to the public.

As his daughter, Hannah, I’ve grown up around the transformation of the park, seeing it go from overgrown and slightly wild, to open space and inviting. Perfect for family days out and picnics, the nursery offers scenic and photogenic open areas, free for the public to utilise.

13118933_577749772401247_5145497625308435159_n13119073_577749822401242_8007960149422514965_nQ- So, tell us about what made you want to run a community project?
Well, the idea originally stemmed from me working at other projects, but these projects were all tailored to one specific group of people, or had one specific service, and I wanted to do something more socially integrating and open to all users, regardless of their background, age, or ability.

Q- What is there to see?
Honestly, there’s so much! We have this really great pond that’s just teeming with life, frogs, fish, newts, and even in the evening we get the occasional duck family coming to stay – it’s such a sight! We also have vegetable patches, some art display inside the main classroom from a local artist Santiago Plicio, the polytunnels have a great plant selection, including a great cactus area. We’re also in the process of making smaller gardens as part of the garden nursery, where 6 out of the 16 planned are complete. We also have this really stunning willow circle, which is just beautiful.

photo-1465405269228-024e4723a8d9
thanks to Stephanie Krist for this photo

Q- Tell us about your volunteers, and who helps run the nursery.
We have quite a large group of volunteers here at the nursery, and without them, there would be no way that the place could be running. Some people volunteer for a month, and some have been volunteering for years, and we appreciate every bit of help we get. Their generosity and time is something I’m always going to be so grateful for.

Q- You’ve just opened to the public for the first time in almost six years, how does that feel?
It feels amazing, we’ve been getting this place ready for the public for so long and now it feels as if our work is finally paid off, and we can do what we’ve always set out to do, create a community project that everyone can benefit for. We’ve been running training courses and school placements for years which is so amazing, but now we can finally make it open to everyone, which was always the plan. We now run a plant sale every Saturday from 10:00am until 4:00pm, and the nursery is otherwise open Monday-Thursday from 9:30 until 5:30.

sale

Q- Got any last words or comments that you want everyone to know?
I’d just love to see you there! Bring your friends, family, dogs, come and experience and enjoy the nursery, see what’s here, and if you want to contribute in any way then we’d love to hear from you too!

 

Seears Park Nursery is open to the public from 9:30am-5:30pm Monday to Thursday, and 10:am-4:00pm on a Saturday for the plant sale and general public use. Follow them on Facebook for events and updates here

Note from Ali – Thank you so much, Hannah, for introducing me to your dad’s amazing community project. Here’s a picture of a pond that my 13-year-old son made, with the addition of the Junctus that he bought from the Nursery!

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Written by Hannah Plicio-Keattch

baking, cooking with kids, food, gardening

It’s been a lovely colourful summer, people have been grumbling about the on-off weather, rainy, then sunny, then rainy again, but it’s meant we have a lot of green in the fields (and our back garden), picnics in the park (sometimes under umbrellas!) and the multi-coloured fruit in the hedgerows have been in abundance!

The joy of finding all of this free fruit has been a delight, it’s brought smiles to our faces and with the winter months approaching, and summer picnics a distant memory, we’re so glad our Ocean Spray cranberry cartons do much the same, adding colour through the refreshing taste and by delighting us throughout the year (the boys just love them in their school packed lunches now the Autumn term has started).
Meanwhile, we’ve really enjoyed foraging for the fresh (FREE) fruit and made copious crumbles, and cakes and we’ve frozen blackberries for morning smoothies in the winter (TOP TIPs: freeze loose on trays so that you can bag them as single loose frozen fruits, rather than a big frozen clump! We also add dried fruit to our smoothies, and have a jar FULL of Ocean Spray’s dried cranberries, they add a real tangy zing)BlackBerry Crumble KidsChaos

aller farm glampingWe’ve spent a lovely staycation weekend down in Devon too – we seem to have given up camping this year (although the tent WAS out earlier in the summer for a night under canvas with 10yo) As a family, we tried out a bit of glamping, and are totally converted – it’s the way forward, the kids loved picking the red apples in their orchard, chasing after the free range chickens, and feeding the black and white Friesian calves, and we loved waking up to such a fabulous view of the green fields, and the wispy white clouds and blue skies…aaahhhh.

So as we head towards the end of the summer holidays, we are still going for our evening stroll around our own neighbourhood and continue to be overwhelmed by the natural colours which will forevever amaze us – Planet Earth at her best….(can’t beat a good British Sunset can you?!)Sunset-KidsChaos

I’m working with BritMums and Ocean Spray highlighting the everyday moments of colour that give each of us a little lift, just like Ocean Spray adds colour to our day and delights us all year round. I have been compensated for my time. All editorial and opinions are my own.

cooking with kids, crafts, gardening, gardening with kids

DIY Bird feeder from half an orange

We have always been big ‘bird’ fans (no, not BIGBird, as in the Sesame Street character, although that has always quite amused…) – As a child we fed the birds in the garden at home, with various bird houses, structures and fat and seed balls, watching to see if the naughty squirrels had somehow managed to nab the grub before the bluetits could get to it!Bird Feeder Orange and Peanut Butter

Bird-Feeder-Peanut-Butter-ingredients-KidsChaos
So we wanted to share this easy birdfeeder with you –

you will need:

half an orange

some peanut butter

some bird seed…

string – (we love the baker’s twine!)

Bird-Feeder-Peanut-Butter-pierce-the-sides-KidsChaos

Scoop out the content of the orange (we have a smoothie every day, so we added the orange to that).

Spread some peanut butter into the orange skin, and add the seeds.

Pierce holes in the side of the orange skin ‘cup’ – actually do this BEFORE you add the peanut butter and seeds!

Thread string, and hang on tree..

We’ve also done this with a toilet roll – can you believe! Click here to read more and here for more fab bird feeder ideas.

Ali also blogs over on Incredibusy.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

 

crafts, create, gardening, kids

A quick blog post to share with you the wonder that is camping… and the sort of crafts you can do whilst you are stuck in a Pine Forest in #FrenchFrance and the boy’s pineapple pinecone.

Pinecone Pineapple
We go on holiday every year with some lovely family friends, and as the kids get older, they get more and more feral, and tend to take themselves off in packs, doing their own thing, whether it comes to popping to the camp playground to make new friends, or getting crafty with the paints and pencils we still take with us every year… So it was with much delight that I found this Pine Cone Pineapple creation by our eldest, he liked it so much he posted it onto his new ‘now I am going into Year 7 please may I have an Instagram account?’ instagram feed….

Pine forest

It was a very visually inspiring place it has to be said… with the largest sand dunes in the World on our doorstep in a pine forest at the foot of the Dune de Pyla. You just had to look UP and the view was pretty awesome too… Look at those leaves!

Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! and come say hello at instagram.com/incredibusy too x
Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
crafts, gardening

What I wore to Britmums Live 2014Ali Clifford and Maggy Woodley

Yes… I know, you know what I wore to #Britmumslive 2014. So many people asked – and I told sooo many people! A couple of rather lovely frocks from the wonderful Palava.co – Honestly, Bryony at Palava.co (previously Poppy England and Bryonyandco) has some beautiful dresses for women size 8 to size 16 and for little girls, from 6months, to 10years! (we ask the question again… why did I have two boys?!!) Maggy from Red Ted Art and I loved wearing the dresses – we are both a #PoppyFrockLover 🙂 I warn you… there will now be a LOT of Britmumslive photos…! #MakeitBritish

PoppyEngland parcel

The parcels arrived, and the tweets started (look at that packaging with the giraffe!)

And then we got DRESSED – and following the tiara theme, the lovely Georgie at Common Farm Flowers down in Somerset popped a beautiful floral tiara in the post arriving safely and in time to adorn the quiff…

If you would like your own Palava.co frock at 15% OFF, use the code BOATSANDFLOATS15 before the 12th July 2014… And failing that, for a chance to win a limited edition 2014 Boats Print reversible washbag, follow Poppy England on twitter and tweet I’m in it to win it with @poppyengland #poppyfrocklover.

Loved my three fabulous rings from another #PoppyFrockLover TreasuredBouquets – they just HAPPENED to coordinate perfectly! 🙂 For more thoughts on Britmums Live click here.

Ali PoppyEngland in a field

Ali Clifford by Liliesarelike Ali Clifford selfie Ali Clifford PoppyEngland feet Ali Clifford and Maggy Woodley
Ali-Clifford-wears-PoppyEngland-Day-1-FlowerFarmer
Ali Clifford Britmumslive rings

Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! and come say hello at instagram.com/incredibusy too x

Ali also writes for Britmums here: GreenRoundUps and over on AGreenerLifeforus.com

 

cooking, cooking with kids, gardening, gardening with kids

Tasty leeks with chickpeas recipe with grilled halloumi cheese

This was a quick ‘rustle’ last night, as we had a big bag of leeks, and all I could think of was Leeks in Cheese Sauce… not very original, 11yo doesn’t like cheese (unless it’s grilled halloumi!), and he wanted to make something that looked ‘restauranty’!

KidsChaos Leek Chick Pea Carrots Parsnips recipeIngredients for 4 people:

6 large leeks
500ml low salt vegetable stock
2 tins 400g tin chickpeas, drained
Packet of Halloumi cheese, sliced

For the dressing

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp runny honey
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 garlic cloves, crushed
A pinch of salt flakes

 Instructions:

1) Chop the leeks in half, and then slice into quarters length ways, to create ribbons.

2) Break up a stock cube into a large deep frying pan, and pour in the 500ml boiling water, add the leeks and simmer for five minutes.

3) Mix up the dressing of olive oil, honey, and the juice and zest of the lemons with the crushed garlic and salt flakes

4) As the leeks soften add the chickpeas to the pan and stir through to heat them.

5) Meanwhile using a ridged frying pan, grill the halloumi (we like the grill stripes!) and start plating up the leeks and chickpeas, spoon over the dressing, and then top with the halloumi cheese – very ‘restauranty’ don’t you think?!

Serve with honey and garlic roasted carrots and parsnips – delicious!

Another favourite for 11yo is his Salmon with mushrooms and pak choi, click here to read more.

You may also like Chris Mosler’s Thinly Spread’s Rich Leek Tart. We’ll be trying that one for sure!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

crafts, create, FREE printables, gardening, gardening with kids, google+ hangouts

Who would have thought we would be making a fairy tale craft tonight – Fridays are usually our ‘film night’ after a full-on week at school.

fairytale craftsHOWEVER, I was taken to one side by my son’s teacher on Thursday to discuss his behaviour – and we between us to set a reward system in place… sigh, just when I thought we were getting somewhere!

So, the plan is, a thumbs up from the teacher = one reward point. And so the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale craft reward chart was invented. And he is really engaged with it so far – we found an old wooden shelf I’d been hoarding since our kitchen cupboard makeovers (11yo wanted me to write that if you don’t have a piece of board, a sheet of paper or card will do), and found a wiggly stick on the way home from school – and got busy!.

Jack and the Beanstalk printableTo get started, cut out your leaves – If you use the FREE printable here – gently stick the sheet to another blank A4 sheet with a low tack magic tape, and cut around the leaves. This gives you a printed leaf, and a plain white leaf. Place the plain white leaves in position on the board, and using them as stencils, put a little paint on a scrunched up piece of kitchen paper, and dab around the edge of the paper leaf to reveal a leaf shape.

Glue the branch of the fairy tale craft beanstalk onto your board (oh yes, I DID use a glue gun), and pop the green leaves somewhere safe. We used a CD sleeve, which we glued to the top of the board to make a pocket to hold the leaves. And rewarded the boy with his first ‘thumbs up’ leaf at the foot of the beanstalk – here’s to a completed beanstalk for Jack to climb up by the end of the week… Also on the blog today – how to make the Snow White Mirror.

kidschaos and redtedart hangout

If you’d like to see the finished fairy tale craft article, click the youtube link here, I got together with Missie Lizzie who talked magic beans, Anthea with her elves’ shoes, Kelly talked Rapunzel, and Maggy at Red Ted Art (talking three little pigs) who hosted a Fairy Tale Craft google+ hangout.

Oh, and I’m on twitter and Instagram is my new favourite thing, I also blog at aGreenerLifeforus.com, and Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

crafts, create, gardening

KidsChaos-book-paper-wreath-front-door


KidsChaos-book-paper-wreathEver the recycle queen of green, I LOVED working with the kids on this one… and a great way to use up old unloved books.

This is very easy to make, the boys’ now have quite a short attention-span for crafting, yet really rose to the challenge – creating templates using REAL Autumn leaves of different shapes which we cut up, several pages at a time for speed, from the pages of this aged book – folding a crease down the centre of the “leaves” to create a more realistic 3Dimensional effect.

KidsChaos-book-paper-wreath-2

We had in preparation, wrapped some lovely string around a shop-bought wreath, however, we have previously used a cereal box to good effect.

9yo thought to add the pine cones – a bit of mixed medium eh?!

We glued the leaves on with our trusty glue gun, overlapping and building as we went along….

KidsChaos-book-paper-wreath-recycle

Our front door is quite sheltered, so it should be OK for Christmas – looks nice eh?

Equally, the ‘leaf wreath’ would look lovely on an interior door during the holiday period, and we’ll be taking this one down to Granny’s care home for the door to her room this year.

 

LeafWreathKidsChaosyoutube

Want to see me talking about this project and other leaf crafts (including our hammered leaf printing and a bubble wrap leaf lamination inspired by Lizzie’s fabulous post)… Click the link and photo left, to watch via youtube…. Maggy Woodley from Red Ted Art hosted a fabulous “Leaf Craft Ideas’ on Google+.

Maggy talked us through some lovely ideas, including leaf bowls whilst wearing a rather attractive leaf crown! More links to follow from Anthea at zingzingtree, thefairyandthefrog, some cute leaf fairies from peaklepiemissielizzie’s decorating pumpkins with leaves and herecomethegirlsblog with their reward chart.

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x LIKE IT? Pin it!

gardening, gardening with kids, kids, life

Chaos writes:

Out in the garden this morning before school, grabbing some compost for the little Papiermâché seedling pots pictured below.KidsChaosCompostTreasures

And look! (actually, look away now if you’re squeamish about worms… oh, too late…)

There was a potato growing deep at the bottom of the hotbin compost bin! I’ve pulled him out, and re-planted the little spud, how exciting – looking forward to harvesting them later in the year 🙂 #composttreasures

To read more on our gardening adventures click here to see where we got our delicious compost for our seedlings.
KidsChaosPAPERMACHETo see how our garden grows, follow our Gardening With Kids posts here.

and how to make an indoor watering can here!

Are you on Google+ Follow me here, and say hello, and I’ll add you back to my circles.

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!
Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com

cooking with kids, gardening, gardening with kids, google+ hangouts, kids

KidsChaosPapierMache-craft-how-to-MAKEChaos writes:

So… what does one do with cereal boxes, if you can’t bear to stick them in the recycling, how about cooking up some cute little Papiermâché seedling pots.

We ripped the cardboard cereal boxes and rice cake boxes into small pieces, and gave them a good soaking. Then pulped the pieces with water, in the blender (sssh, don’t tell Daddy).

Draining the pulp in a colander, squeezing the excess water. Flour the work surface, and mix, knead in some flour {SECRET INGREDIENT ALERT!}.
And take small quantities, pushing into the silicone muffin cases to mold the little pots. We air-dried the pots over-night, however, for speed, you could pop them into the oven, if you were baking spuds, or home-made pizza anyway!

We DID try to make a batch of these seedling pots in conventional metal cake trays… FAIL!, they set solid, glued in… so yes, silicone rules!

If you’re looking for these silicone muffin cases you can find them here in the US and here in the UK (affiliate links)
KidsChaosPAPERMACHE

Click this image below to watch the youtube video of our Google+ hangout – and watch Maggy from Red Ted Art sharing her shadow puppet theatre and her ‘everlasting’ picture frame, Playful Learners made another gorgeous puppet theatre Aly at Plus 2 Point 4 showed us how to use a box as a weaving loom, and my fave, Me and My Shadow and her vintage style secret book

To read more on our gardening adventures click here to see where we got our delicious compost for our seedlings.

To see how our garden grows, follow our Gardening With Kids posts here.

and how to make an indoor watering can here!

Are you on Google+ Follow me here, and say hello, and I’ll add you back to my circles.

Oh, and I’m on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! Ali  also writes at aGreenerLifeforus.com.