You are really welcome.
Our story is one of time and connection,
although this has only become apparent to us through time and connection.
Part of our story so far is written for you below.
If you don’t have time to read it right now, no worries.
When you have time and if you want to connect with our story, then come back and feel free to dip in.
We are a small Community Interest Company created by two Worcester mums: Sam (a nurse) and Helen (a forest school leader/speech therapist) who, when they met, definitely weren’t expecting to set up a CIC or be wielding drills.
In 2016 Sam’s son Matthew was looking for somewhere local where he could get involved with and learn more about nature on a regular basis. Matthew knew me (Helen) from school, where I had been running some woodland sessions. One school pick up, Matthew dragged his mum over to me and asked for ideas.
In the absence of finding somewhere local and easy to access, Matthew and Ben (Helen’s son in the same class) started a nature club at the children’s school with our help.
As well as benefitting the children, we began really feeling the benefits for ourselves of being busy and curious outdoors in nature. And so we began our 12 month search for a suitable local woodland space which we could learn to look after, and where we could start offering forest school to children and possibly nature connection opportunities for adults in Worcester.
We asked friends, family and acquaintances if they knew of a parcel of land that might do. We studied Google Earth at length. Then a friend suggested we come and look at this little patch of cityside wilderness nestled by the canal.
We were smitten.
Once we had found the right person to speak to about the land, and had fought our way in through shoulder height bramble to see what lay within, we set our hearts on revitalising this bramble choked slope.
Wild and Rooted CIC came into being and, in December 2017, with support from Worcester City Council, we took on the lease for what we now fondly call Bramblewood.
As part-time employed and full time mums we knew that whatever we were creating needed to come about organically, at a pace we could manage, and family would need to come first.
So we took our time, and went on a journey of discovery deep into Bramblewood. With just hand tools, layers of clothes for bramble-proofing and a huge heap of curiosity, our awe and love for the natural wild world that was unfolding in front of and, it seems, inside us, just grew week by week.
You can read more about our discoveries, how we are learning to look after Bramblewood here.
Over the first few months at Bramblewood we realised that we had landed in exactly the right place. We had not anticipated receiving such a lot of support from the community. We began making some fabulous friends and received a lot of encouragement from allotment holders and reps, local people and local organisations too. These include Worcester Canal Group, The Duckworth Trust, Worcester City Council and Worcester Play Council.
We remember Brian Locke our allotment site rep with warmth and gratitude.
In 2019, with the help of another forest school leader and teacher, Liz Yorke, and a group of brilliant volunteers, we opened Bramblewood Forest School, offering a session each Saturday to 12 local 5-11 year olds. We were using less than an 8th of Bramblewood at this point and decided that this was all that was needed for the time being.
Forest School quickly became over subscribed, so we widened our little circle of fireside log stumps, got a bigger tarp for the roof and began offering 2 sessions each Saturday.
We secured funds from Worcester Play Council for 2 children whose families wouldn’t otherwise afford it, to attend weekly forest school for a year, and we worked with St. Barnabas and St. George’s C of E Primary Schools to make sure the places went to children who would really benefit.
Once we were happy that things were running smoothly we began making plans for mid-week sessions for home schooled children, and planning how to open up for adults – which meant making plans for dealing with people’s natural deposits.
In early March 2020, a firm building houses locally donated enough reclaimed timber for us to begin creating our ‘Treebog’ (a composting loo that incorporates our pee and poop into natures water and soil/nitrogen cycles, rather that wasting it). See here for a good article on Treebogs and this gives really interesting history on why a dry loo is a really good thing.
The Duckworth Trust brought their wonderful volunteers and together we laid the foundations for our Treebog. We cemented our plans for a big community build day, which would allow us to open to adult groups.
And then came Lockdown 1.0. Check out our video for what happened next.
When word got out that Sam and I had begun building our composting loo, and when a small easing in the Covid restrictions allowed us to open as a place of work, help began arriving. We soon learned not to be afraid of asking, and that most people were only too keen to be helpful and be a part of something good. The full list of people who contributed to the Treebog in someway is at the end of the video, but we want to mention 2 people here.
Colin Hepburn works for a firm building homes locally – he secured help from his firm and with colleagues reclaimed all of the required timber which was destined for the skip. He then got stuck in and spent 2 blisteringly hot days teaching us carpentry skills and turning our platform into a hut with walls, roof and door. Thank you so much Colin!
Jon Cree was already a friend to Bramblewood. So when he offered to come and help at Bramblewood during lockdown, we bit his hand off. Jon converted our A-frame ladder into a tripod so that we could get up to the Treebog roof safely. He then played a most important role for learners undertaking some thing they’ve never tried before. He stood back and let us get on with it, lending a practical hand or opinion only when asked.
We took ages and we made many mistakes. And we did it. I have worked and taught in experiential education all of my adult life, and sung loudly the benefits of learning-by-doing. Still, as an adult when setting out to do something that feels totally beyond my comfort zone, having someone who probably knows just what to do, but just lets you get on with it, gives a much longer lasting, deeper learning experience; an ‘I Actually Can’ learning experience.
With further help from Jon, Bramblewood is now also equipped with a greenwood working area and we are ready and able to offer a place for people to come and begin forming a deeper connection with our natural world. Thank you Jon.
Eden Project Community Camp
Sam and Helen were privileged to attend the Eden Project Community Camp online in March 2021. The learning from both the brilliantly organised sessions, and from the opportunities to network during and since camp really boosted us through the lockdown slumps, and spurred us on to find more ways to connect with the community. We would highly recommend attending Eden’s Community Camp to anyone wanting to create something new and positive in their community.
During lockdown 1.0, we began raising funds to help us become a Woodland Wellbeing Centre for Worcester. Through our Crowdfund Worcester campaign we received huge support from the local residents, from Worcester City and Worcestershire County Counsellors, and a significant contribution to support our work from Worcestershire County Council. We are now creating a shelter for our green woodworking area, a new, larger shelter for forest school and other gatherings, and 2 of the team are undertaking further training and qualifications in Wellbeing in nature.
Some of our sessions have a fee which covers the staff and materials used in a session as well as make a contribution to our overheads like insurance.
We do our best to raise funds for these sessions to subsidise or completely sponsor spaces on these sessions for people who can’t otherwise afford it. These places, where we have them, are limited, please get in touch if you want to find out if there are subsidised places for the course you would like to attend.
If you would like to support someone else to attend a course or session at Bramblewood, do please also get in touch!
Some of our sessions are listed as ‘Pay what you can’. Here, we will give an idea of what it actually costs us per place for an event or activity. It is our hope that those who value the experience and the spirit behind our work will be happy to pay more if they can, and those who would value the experience but otherwise would not be able to afford to have it, can.
All of our current sessions, our website, fundraising and our admin are provided by a team of one voluntary administrator and a group of 5 wonderful directors. It is our intention that, through our activities and fundraising, we will make the project more sustainable. In the meantime, please feel free to support us and buy our administrator a coffee. Thank you.