Children at St John’s CE Primary School in Shildon, County Durham are now cooking on…mud, thanks to innovative work from Deerness Fencing and Landscaping Limited.
The firm, which is also based in County Durham, designed and built an outdoor “mud kitchen” for Key Stage 1 pupils to play in during their break times.
Constructed from recycled wood, the kitchen features a fake sink, hob and cooking space and allows the five to seven-year-olds to use their imagination while playing outside.
Jim Bates, managing director at Deerness Fencing and Landscaping Ltd, said the project had been one of the firm’s most fun to date.
He explained: “We already had a great relationship with St John’s, having already carried out, several fencing and landscaping works for the school before this project.
“The headteacher Andrew Farnell had been looking to provide self-contained play facilities for the Key Stage 1 children, but buying in equipment comes at substantial cost.
“He approached Deerness about creating a mud kitchen, and though it’s not the kind of work we normally undertake, we were only too happy to help out.”
Jim and his team set about designing the play equipment – which needed to be suitable for the youngest children at the primary school, and capable of storing play equipment.
They recruited the services of The Wood Pile community interest company in Durham – a specialist in reclaimed wood and wood furniture.
Deerness, an Esh Group company, regularly donates unused wood to the organisation, which then repurposes the materials in to furniture using a staff who have faced difficulty finding work.
Founder Karen Stubbings donated all of the materials for St John’s mud kitchen, meaning that once completed, the entire project cost a small fraction of what it would have done otherwise.
St John’s CE Primary School headteacher, Andrew Farnell, said: “We are very happy to have worked with Deerness on the development of our outdoor learning resources.
“They have produced a number of bespoke items that enable the children to independently access all resources for use in their learning activities.”
Jim added: “We had great fun putting together the mud kitchen. It’s tailored specifically for the pupils at St John’s, so we had to work out the correct heights and shapes to make sure it was just right for the children.
“At Deerness we love to put something back into the community and helping a local school in this way is a perfect example of the value we add.”
We are very happy to have worked with Deerness on the development of our outdoor learning resources. They have produced a number of bespoke items that enable the children to independently access all resources for use in their learning activities.- St John’s CE Primary School headteacher, Andrew Farnell