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Coalville Nature Garden

In the autumn of 2023, we were hugely excited to receive funding from Natural England and Libraries Connected as part of their Culture Nature project. Our remit was to ‘develop and deliver a project which helps communities build their connection with nature, how they think about, feel about, and experience nature’.

Coalville Library has a green space at the front of the library that has huge potential that has not been realised, so our aim was to develop a plan for a community ‘green space’ at the front of the library with the purpose of making the site more inviting and to use it as a catalyst for nature based cultural activities within the library.

The first action we took was to educate library staff at Coalville Library about Nature Connectedness, including the importance of connecting with nature through the senses and how this can have a positive impact on mental health and making connections with others. We then set up a new Nature Youth Group with students from Maplewell Post-16, with assistance from Coalville C.A.N, who took part in a 10 week course. The first session we took part in was very similar to the Nature Connectedness training that the library undertook.

‘The nature connections game with the ball of wool was good. I learnt about food chains and Karen was pleasant.’ Walker

In the following weeks, the students, teachers and library staff had very hands on learning about… deep breath… Nature Connectedness, Crafting to make a library display, God’s Eye decorations, Hapa Zome fabric printing, Sun printing, Nature walks, Poetrees, Nature Connections, Bird feeders, Bug hotels, and Garden Design.

‘I really enjoyed my lessons with Tony and learnt about nature and gardens.’ Tom

In our penultimate session we talked about turning the group’s learning into worksheets that could be used by library users, thought about which activities would translate well to a worksheet, and decided on the basics of a brief for an artist to design a master background template to add our activities to. We then created a library display to share what we have been up to with the local community, with the help of Loren, a very creative LSA.

‘During this project I learnt about the importance of certain parts of nature that I didn’t realise had that much importance.’ Alex

Our final week was spent reflecting on our journey and relaxing together whilst creating some mosaics that could potentially be included in our library garden.

‘Things I have enjoyed in the library is going walking and exploring nature. The crafts we have been doing along with the staff at the library have been fun.’ Dan

Watch this space for future projects that will see the implementation of the ideas, plans and learning that the Nature Youth Group gathered and generated over the course of the project. For now, we will be focusing on getting the Culture Nature worksheets developed and piloted at Coalville Library before introducing the rest of the county! Finally, please enjoy a fantastic nature and book themed draw-along by Jessi Illustrates, the start of our legacy work as a result of this wonderful project: