A natural learning environment

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Southland Community Nursery nature educator Bronwyn Graham (left) helps Lleyton Hamilton (4), of Invercargill, pot a cabbage tree seedling during his visit to the nursery. Photos: Hayden Williams

ABOUT 12 children from Roslyn Bush Playcentre visited the Southland Community Nursery in Otatara for an educational nature experience last week.

The nursery, run by a charitable trust, has an on-site education centre which was built with funding from the Southland Community Trust, the Invercargill Licensing Trust and the nursery’s co-founders and owner-operators Brian and Chris Rance.

Chris Rance said the visiting children planted kowhai and cabbage tree seedlings to be used by farmers, conservation groups and individuals throughout Southland who wanted to attract particular birds to their gardens.

The nursery supplied the region with more than 8000 such plants annually, she said.

After their work in the potting shed, the children embarked on a “scavenger hunt” walk through restored native bush behind the nursery.

The restored bush thrives around two ponds on land which was a bare paddock in 1996.

The nursery hosts children from playcentres and schools throughout Southland through the week, as well as adult volunteers on Fridays, and last year about 1000 children visited, Mrs Rance said.

The nursery’s nature educator, Bronwyn Graham, said she taught visiting children interesting facts about flowers and plants and to be more observant of nature.

Visiting parent Rosie Shanks said the Roslyn Bush Playcentre children had visited because they had been looking at the natural world and how it related to them.

“We thought we’d bring them to the nursery, which is a great starting point, as our current learning goal at the playcentre is making sense of the natural world.”

The Southland Community Nursery welcomes bookings from early childhood centres. For more information, go to www.southlandcommunitynursery.org.nz

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