Little Thetford Acorns Preschool Build a Sensory Garden for Under £40

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Crowd sourcing from parents, friends and local businesses give a preschool an amazing sensory garden

Garden with staff and children: from left Vicki (Deputy preschool leader), Rohi, George, Lucy Thorne, Libby, James, Zoe Corley (Setting Manager), Amelie and Maisie
Garden with staff and children: from left Vicki (Deputy preschool leader), Rohi, George, Lucy Thorne, Libby, James, Zoe Corley (Setting Manager), Amelie and Maisie

Little Thetford Acorns Preschool and Children’s club were recently turned down a grant from the National Lottery to build a sensory garden. This would have allowed children from Preschool and Out of School clubs to enjoy nature, get interested in gardening and gain an appreciation of the outdoors. The application for the Garden Project had been on going for a few years so staff and Management Committee were all disappointed.

As a registered Charity, they had little money to spend on the garden, and were keen to avoid another lengthy application process. So Committee member Lucy Thorne decided that crowd sourcing was the way to go and started looking for donations of unwanted garden items. Parents, grandparents and local businesses kindly donated scaffolding boards to build planters, topsoil, railway sleepers, roof tiles, logs, stepping stones, plants, shrubs, bird feeders, a water butt, paint and gravel. Using ideas from Pinterest and a visit to Ely nursery Harlequins, Lucy and setting manager Zoe Corley designed the garden. Then over a weekend around 20 parents, along with grandparents, members of staff and the Management Committee, gave up their time to build it.

Lucy Thorne said; ‘The response to my plea for help and donations was amazing. Every day I would come into preschool and more stuff had been donated. Everyone seemed to get on board with what we were trying to achieve. I spent a morning in B&W Cambridge with Pete helping me find all the discounted items, Ridgeon’s kindly donated a water butt, the guys at the Amey Cespa Witchford Recycling Centre called me when suitable items came in and Franco from FDS Grab Hire delivered 2 tons of topsoil, rocks and railway sleepers. All I bought was a metal arch from Emmaus, some spray paint and the plants from B&Q which all came to £38.70. And then so many parents came over the weekend to help out – we really couldn’t have done it without everyone’s kind donations, time and energy.’

The grand unveiling of the garden was on Monday 20th October and the children love their new garden! Setting Manager Zoe Corley says ‘We are all really excited to have our garden finished! This is going to give the children a fantastic learning opportunity and a new environment to explore.’

Even though the garden is finished, work still continues. Fundraising is now needed to buy the children the tools so they can use their garden, such as watering cans, tools for gardening and bug hunting and maybe even a shed. The Fundraising team is working hard to get prizes for the Christmas Raffle and donations for the Bottle Tombola stand at Ely Light up Night.

Sensory Garden at Little Thetford Acorns
Sensory Garden at Little Thetford Acorns

For more information, please contact Lucy Thorne (Head of the Fundraising Team) on fundraising@littlethetfordacorns.org.uk.

Businesses that helped:

Franco from FDS Grab Hire

Mike Randall from Ridgeons Cambridge

Pete from B&Q Cambridge

Staff at Amey Cespa Witchford recycling plant