Bush Farm's Ah-ha moment began when, in 2007, I (Katie) had a breakthrough moment while sitting quietly amongst the wildflowers. Within minutes, I became enamoured with the activity. There was so much going on! I imagined if we could get children, learning from nature, rather than within the four walls, what that could look like? Would children be buzzing out with science of ' the every day'? Would they begin to: Observe the patterns around them? See real-life problems? Look to nature for solutions? Or perhaps, just being amongst their earthly brothers and sisters would give them a sense of inner calm and joy? The possibilities were endless.
The idea stuck to me. It became my sole purpose and drive. I had to get more experiences. I threw myself into visiting Democratic and Holistic Centres in the UK (Summerhill, Schumacher College, etc.) before returning to WWOOF on farms around Aotearoa, New Zealand. It was powerful real-life learning that no study could give me. It was a perfect combination of journeying deeper into rural NZ, digging into the soil and being present. It was transformational yet humbling six months, and I realised then, I had something to contribute. Through various paid positions, the ideas kept formulating and digesting as the concept began to take hold. Any doubt was erased when I had my first foray into consulting and successfully designed and implemented an educational curriculum package. So when the opportunity to spend time in Forest and Farms Schools in the USA, to see their One-Day Schools in action, Bush Farm began. Fast forward, 18months, and we completed a successful first-year pilot programme in 2017.
Bush Farm became a business in December 2018. Today, we provide a One Day School, Preschool Sessions and School Holiday Programmes. We currently operate children's programmes from October through to April, each year. In the NZ winter months, we use the time to create professional development.
LET NATURE BE YOUR TEACHER
Drawing on a philosophy of authenticity and connection to each other and the natural world, we aim to explore a space where children and nature come together. A place where we can connect the dots of how everything connects, to see how we are a part of nature, need nature and have a responsibility to protect and give nature a voice.
Critical thinking and opportunities for delving deeper will be carefully crafted into the days through equal amounts of structured programming and free play. When nature offers us something else, we will take the time to investigate.
The place we stand – Te Paraka o Rakaihautū, Banks Peninsula - will have our attention. It is where we celebrate the constant beauty, the rhythms, flora and fauna. We will observe how this whenua beneath our feet has endured over time; the strength and resilience it has taken to arrive at her current form. We will seek to develop an understanding of the unique ecology of this landscape while deepening our connection to nature, each other and ourselves.
Structured programming may include: geology, plants and wild edibles ID, life-cycles, bird language, tracking and trapping, citizenship, farming and gardening, food preparation, Māori tikanga, carving and whittling.
Free play will offer the opportunity to take healthy risks, roam, and let the imagination flow. Community building, sit spots, nature games, and waiata are core routines, which we integrate throughout the day.
With nature and the seasons as our teacher, curiosity and critical thinking will drive our focus. Children will learn awareness and sensory acuteness, self-care, quiet mind, autonomy, cooperation, empathy, interdependence, pattern detection, singing and storytelling.
"Katie and Naomi have a real talent and passion for connecting and educating tamariki with taiao. And what a fabulous learning environment to work in. Ka pai!"
Teacher, Chomondeley Childrens Centre, 2018