By Toby Porter
Good gardeners are usually referred to as “green-fingered” – but the colour of choice for these youngsters seems to be “muddy”.
An adventure playground founded in the rubble of post-war Lambeth is expanding a scheme which allows children to get their hands dirty and learn about where food comes from.
The nature club at Triangle Adventure Playground – the oldest one in the capital still on its original site – helps children learn about biodiversity and the natural world and grow, cook and eat their own food.
It will be launching a family allotment club to grow more fruit and veg at its site in Oval – to provide healthy food to families in need. It is also running sessions for mums and toddlers to inspire children from an early age.
Binh An Penrose-Do, aged seven, from Camberwell has been attending Nature Club for three years. She said: “I really like eating the things that we grow. My favourite was the gooseberries. I also like planting because I like getting dirt on my hands.”
Nylah Small, aged nine, from Loughborough Junction, has been attending the nature club at Triangle for a year.
She said: “Nature Club has helped me to get more creative as my imagination is already wild and bursting from its shell. Nature Club helped me grow my own Aloe Vera at home which has given me the inspiration to draw plants. It’s all amazing fun.”
The new schemes are made possible thanks to a £48,000 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.
Veronika Garwolinski, Chair of the Triangle Adventure Playground Association, said: “When children first come to us they’re often squeamish about getting their hands in the soil, but we see them go on a journey where it becomes second nature to them as they enjoy the health benefits that come from immersing themselves in the natural world.
“We have many families in this area who don’t have a lot of money and struggle to access fresh, healthy food, and it’s great to see children not only developing a passion for nature and food growing but also inspiring the same interest in their parents.”
Triangle was set up in 1957 by Marjorie Porter – head teacher at nearby Ashmole Primary School – inspired by a Danish trend for child-led play and the sight of youngsters making their own fun in the rubble of World War Two bomb sites.
Its ethos of ‘free play’ sees youngsters from six to 17 roam outdoors in a safe and supervised environment, have fun on equipment such as swings and a zipwire, enjoy arts and crafts activities and even build their own huts.
Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee Dhruv Patel said: “Allowing children to be creative, to come up with their own ideas, to get dirty, build relationships with their peers and enjoy outdoor play is a really important for healthy child development.
“This funding will enable Triangle to extend its activities in the community and to help more children – and their families – learn about nature and enjoy the benefits of healthy, nutritious food.”
More information on Triangle Adventure Playground is at www.
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