Our seedarium project

Our seedarium project
About Ulla Beag

Ulla Beag is a green Nature School holding seven Green Flags from An Taisce. The setting has been a member of Early Childhood Ireland since 2010 and has won two national Early Childhood Ireland awards: for Innovation in Environmental awareness in 2012, and Innovation in Creative Learning in 2016. It has also had an article published on the Arts in Education Portal. Ulla Beag is renowned for its dedication to inclusivity and environmental consciousness. It places a high priority on providing equal educational opportunities for all children by promoting a child-centred learning approach and creating a creative learning environment. Children are encouraged to actively participate in decision-making that affects them, following the Lundy Model.

Seedarium

Together with their Preschool teacher Rhona Sheridan, in partnership with Rachel Doolin, a multi-disciplinary artist, 12 three–five-year-olds actively transformed and contributed to Seedarium by sharing their voice and choices.

Woman holding a seed on a white glove
Rachel Doolin in Seedarium. Photo: Mark Steadman

This project was part of Rachel’s efforts to promote awareness of the significance of seed sovereignty, biodiversity, food security, and our food heritage. Rachel sought to create a seed focused exhibition that will present many aspects and stories relating to the ‘seeds of today’.

Owner Denise Sheridan says, “Working alongside my fellow Early Years teacher Rhona, in May 2022 I responded to a community outreach from Seedsavers and Rachel Doolin’s Project Seedarium – to submit harvested seeds. As we harvest seeds within the school garden this was very aligned to our focus on building sustainable living skills through gardening with the children at Ulla Beag.”

Choosing the seeds

With the children we went through our seed store – all of which are saved year on year with the children and together decided which seeds we wanted to be included in the Seedarium.

  • Sunflowers
  • Lupin
  • Sweet Pea
  • Hazelnuts* (technically a nut but chosen for inclusion).

Rhona says “The Mud Kitchen area is lined by a boundary of hazelnut trees and year on year it has been the most favoured place of the children. When we were discussing which seeds to send to Rachel one of the children suggested sending her the seeds from the trees and everyone thought this was a great idea!”

Each child took part in decorating labels and drawing their self-portrait to send to Rachel. As it was during Covid-19 restrictions another child suggested drawing pictures of themselves so Rachel knew who they were.

“We knew and could sense this was the start of a very special journey and as the children were voicing their opinions and were happily participating, we were excited about where this could lead”, Rhona continued.

“Involvement in this project further supported our school culture of inclusion and participation, community outreach, sense of belonging and sustainability all treasured themes from Aistear and Siolta. It was an amazing experience, and we so look forward to the exhibition and how Rachel included the children’s contributions”. Denise emphasised.

As much as Heirloom has been about seeds, Rachel says, it’s also “about that connection: when I was receiving the words along with the seeds, that was the connection for me. That’s where that power is, in the advocacy for continued guardianship. When I received the hazelnuts from the children at Ulla Beag it was such an inspiring moment and I felt privileged to represent their voices by including them in the exhibition as it developed.”

Rachel included the contributions in a project catalogue, documenting the children’s inputs as artefacts for future research and sharing.

Continuing to work with the community Denise was invited to share the learning from this project and the children’s subsequent involvement in a project called Little Peas in an article for Seedsavers Winter Catalogue. This was titled Investing in the Future: Sustainability in the Early Years at Úlla Beag. The full project description can be found at www.racheldoolin.com/projects

Feedback

We got great feedback from the children when Rachel returned to share a Golden Hazelnut with them. We hope you enjoy this article and leave you with this from Prof. Laura Lundy:

 

* If you are growing nut bearing trees, ensure that your risk assessment relating to allergies reflects this. 

 

 

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