Art Gene - Barrow
What’s this about?
The Bee Wild Low Carbon Eco-Venture was an immersive summer school programme designed to help families in Barrow-in-Furness connect with nature and the environment on a deeper level. The aim was to raise awareness about the climate and biodiversity crisis, and to equip participants with the skills necessary to contribute to the transition to low-carbon, sustainable living in their community
The sessions were planned to accommodate children of mixed abilities. The publicity and session names were adventurous and designed to be appealing to children, for example, ‘Butterfly Ball’, ‘The Rubbish Feast’ (on composting), ‘The Land of the Minibeast’ and ‘Food or Weed?’ (to describe a foraging session). In interactive and hands-on sessions families were encouraged to learn together. In the session on pond biodiversity, for example, they collected pond samples, looked at them in detail in small containers using magnifying glasses at a work bench, and used worksheets to identify finds.
A foraging expert was brought in to help families identify a range of wild plants that are safe to eat and the children enjoyed making their own delicious ‘mocktails’ out in the field. In a butterfly identification session, participants were able to catch, release and accurately identify 5 different species of butterfly. Children who attended in the second week were able to harvest cress they had sowed the week before.
How did it impact the community?
The programme forged new relationships with the community and reached new people as a result; children returned for a second second session having convinced grandparents to come along with them and older siblings came along. By the end children who had refused to eat vegetables at the beginning were happily creating and eating their own salads and drinks from ingredients they had grown, harvested or foraged. Some families returned to take part in other events, such as the Big Green Weekender, or volunteered for soup making sessions.
What difference has it made to the climate?
The Bee Wild Low Carbon Eco-Venture was able to engage local families in conversations about climate change and providing ideas for planet friendly low cost actions that can be taken in the future. Parents and carers reported a determination to engage in gardening for wildlife in their own homes.