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Pupils Enjoy Day of Environmental Activities at Puttenham Barn Bunkhouse

Published on: 23 Jan, 2024
Updated on: 23 Jan, 2024

Puttenham Barn Bunkhouse provides reasonably priced wardened accommodation for up to 11 walkers, cyclists or horse riders – similar to, but more basic than a youth hostel.

Run entirely by volunteers, it has a strong environmental emphasis and is looked after by Project Oasis North Downs, which is a registered charity.

The fully furnished barn is itself an historic listed building.

Pupils from Puttenham C of E School at Puttenham Bunkhouse Barn.

It has links with the local community an example being late last year when pupils from Puttenham C of E Infant School walked through their village to the barn and within its secret wildflower garden discovered creative and fun ways to look after the environment.

Volunteer co-ordination Tish Piwowarek at the Puttenham Barn Bunkhouse says that over the course of the day, Sussex Green Living, a charity specialising in educational green initiatives, led the four- to seven-year-olds through three activities that explored different ways they could be green and also respect nature. 

Seeds planted in old coffee cups.

The first activity was planting seeds in old coffee cups, which enabled conversations about nutrition, the importance of growing healthy food locally, the problems with spraying poison on our food crops, and the need to share with birds, insects and other wild creatures.

Spotting winter berries that provide food for wildlife.

Another group followed a treasure trail quiz around the barn, learning about the solar panels, spotting plants growing as food for the wildlife, and discovering exactly what goes in the compost bins!

They were also encouraged to find the bike shed and talk about why cycling might be good for them and the environment.

Plastic milk bottles ready to be used for creative upcycling.

The final activity introduced creative upcycling with plastic milk bottles. Each child created a decorative basket out of their plastic bottle to take their planted seeds home in, giving them the important task of looking after a living thing for themselves, beyond the day itself.

Tish adds that parents were invited to an assembly before home time, where enthusiastic pupils presented the “Magic of Trees”. They told their parents that leaves are just solar panels for the trees, and that by eating plants we are eating sunshine. It is official – that makes us all solar powered!

The pupils having a fantastic day at Puttenham Bunkhouse Barn.

The headteacher pf Puttenham C of E Infant School, Anna Filippis, said she was delighted with the event, adding. “The children learnt so much about planting, recycling and how to look after the world. We have had many positive comments from the parents too. It was a fantastic day.”

Puttenham Barn has been in the village for over 250 years but was deteriorating and needed a new life. In 2005 it was sympathetically restored into an eco-friendly bunkhouse for walkers and cyclists travelling along the nearby North Downs Way.

Morag Warrack, a trustee for Project Oasis North Downs, came up with the idea and helped to run the activities with the pupils.

She said: As a trustee it was wonderful to see the next generation being engaged in learning about how to have fun in nature.

“The barn is a great resource for education, such as how to create more truly sustainable buildings. It’s the real deal when there’s so much ‘spin’ and greenwashing about!

“Learning to live alongside nature with respect and appreciation is one of the most important lessons a person can learn, especially given the current crises in ecology and climate.

“It was great fun to work with such a joyful, engaged community, and bringing together the school and village with the Barn resource was a dream come true!”

Puttenham Barn Bunkhouse and the school are already in talks to make this an annual event and so, alongside the famous Puttenham Bonfire, it is hoped this could be the start of a new Puttenham tradition.

Puttenham Barn Bunkhouse is also recruiting for an administration volunteer. See poster below.

Click here for Puttenham Bunkhouse Barn’s website and for how to book, and more…

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