South Millfields Park, Millfields Road, Hackney, London, E5 0AR.
Free Range Urban Kids is located within an enclosed area of South Millfields Park, tucked between the tennis and basketball courts. The park was recently awarded its first green flag. With the full support of Hackney Council and the Park Rangers we have made this our base to welcome our urban kids enabling them to be free range in natural surrounding all year round. However we do not have sole use of this area and members of the public are welcome to use the space too whilst FRUK sessions take place.
We set up our Forest Kindergarten before the children arrive and pack down at the end of the day, restoring the site to its natural state. The tool area is roped off and the fire pit is assembled. A toilet tent is hidden amongst the trees and a kitchen area is set up with fresh drinking water and snacks. Our book basket is refreshed regularly with story books, flora and fauna ID guides and multilingual titles.
At FRUK we ensure we are upholding principles of sustainability and seek to improve the area continually by planting new trees, shrubs and flowers. Daily litter removal, installing bird boxes, a bug hotel and on-site wormery, and roping off areas for VIP plants that emerge such as snowdrops and bluebells, are just a few of the activities we lead on with the children.
One side of the site includes a copse of hazelnut, elder, oak, field maple and hawthorn trees that the children can explore and embark on independent play. We gather by our log circle to shelter under the tarp, listen to stories and share meal times.
At the end of the site is a line of very tall conifers, the perfect place to build dens, erect pulley systems and shelter from the rain. On the far side is another collection of trees, including a plum the children can harvest the fruit from; plus strong elders, known as the climbing trees. In the middle of this area is the mud kitchen equipped with large containers of water, pots and pans to create muddy play on dry days.
Our climbing frames are the trees and logs which through imaginative play become space ships, boats and horses.
In the middle is a large grassy area with fallen trees for climbing, space to run and the perfect oak tree with a strong outstretched arm for our rope swing.
FRUK explore the wider area of the local green belt on roaming trips with the children. Our site is a starting point for outdoor adventures and offers many unique walks to choose from. We take a vote before we set off on where we wish to go. Places we visit include the River Lea, Wick Woodland, Walthamstow and Leyton marshes where cows graze or Lee Valley Riding centre to stroke the horses. The fruit orchard where apple, pear, plum, cherry trees are growing. The local nature reserve is ideal for bird watching and the stone circle next to the water lock are all popular destinations.
PICK UP AND DROP OFF – We meet at South Millfields Park, near the basketball court, in the enclosure, by the fallen tree.
DIRECTIONS, TRANSPORT & PARKING
Parking is available on Chatsworth Road. Bus routes nearby are 242, 55, 56, 48, 38. Our site is accessed either via Hillstowe Street or the park entrance on Chatsworth Rd, opposite Millfields cafe. Nearest overground train stations are either Clapton or Homerton.