October 4th, 2023
The average UK 3-7 year old spends 3.5 hours a day in front of a screen. Compare that to the time they play outside? Less than an hour a day – with 75% racking up less time outdoors, daily, than prison inmates. A sobering stat, and one that begs for a solution to try and balance the ways in which our children spend their free time.
Enter: Mud & Bloom.
A monthly subscription box that’s sole purpose is to incentivise children between the ages of 3-8 to get outdoors, learn how to grow their own fruit, veg and flowers, and have fun in nature whilst learning along the way. Their boxes fit through your letterbox; they’re biodegradable and plastic free wherever possible; they teach young people crucial life skills; and they offer much-needed enjoyment away from the backlit hodgepodge of techno-squares-and-rectangles that litter our homes and pockets.
Launched by Anja Ffrench in 2017, Mud & Bloom grew out of a need for regular outdoor activities for her children to enjoy. Frustrated with the lack of options available, Anja enrolled herself on a Royal Horticultural Society course with the intention of turning her passion for nature into a flourishing business.
Determined to inspire families to get off the sofa and into nature and develop a relationship with the world, the monthly activities you’ll find in their boxes are as varied as they are interesting. To pluck a few at random from recent months, subscribers have enjoyed the likes of crafting a jam jar nature xylophone, MacGuyvering their own bow and arrow, building a mini wormery and producing constellation projectors. That’s not to mention the regular stream of seasonal fruit, veg and flowers to grow, enjoy and admire.
With all that said, let’s highlight a few… necessary facts, to underline the importance of what Mud & Bloom are doing, before we move on.
• By the age of 8, the average child will have spent nearly one full year with their eyes glued to a screen.
• Children’s discretionary screen time has risen over 50% in less than a decade.
• 83% of children interviewed by Natural England agreed that being in nature made them “very happy.”
• 82% of children agreed that they would like to do more to protect the environment.
• Children are between 2 and 3 times more physically active when outdoors than indoors.
• Adults with a household member who participated in growing their own fruit and veg consumed 40% more fruit and vegetables than those who did not.
With all that said, it’s truly vital that parents take ownership of the situation and endeavour to include genuinely fun things that their children can do outdoors.
After all, growing something teaches responsibility. A child having to water a plant daily highlights the importance of consistency and consideration – in tandem with the enjoyment of, quite literally, seeing the fruits of their labour.
In Anja’s own words, “we encourage respect for nature, but we also encourage rummaging around in it: touching and smelling, picking flowers and engaging the senses – that’s how children learn and connect.” Engaging these senses by mucking around in the garden is something that categorically cannot be replaced by even the most advanced gizmos we have to hand.
Plus, in order to be as accommodating as possible, the activities don’t even require a private outdoor space to be able to get involved. “Organic, peat-free compost pellets [are] in all the boxes, to enable anyone to get started and grow the seeds regardless of what space they have.” Typically you’ll need to find bits and bobs to complete the activities, but all of the additional items can be found just as easily in a park as a back garden.
Just like blending up veg and sneaking it into a pasta sauce, the activities laid out in Mud & Bloom are covertly educating kids on what it means to connect with nature – as well as supporting their formal studies. Created by qualified teachers, alongside influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori Education, the instructions are easy to understand and written with children in mind.
To date, over 250,000 boxes have been delivered to eager families across the UK and Europe. It’s clear that whilst providing a responsible and enjoyable outlet for children to engage themselves in their surroundings, Mud & Bloom are simultaneously building a healthy business.
Quality time, life-lessons, belly laughs and kitschy life-long keepsakes? Blooming brilliant, if you ask us.
Written by Jonathon Bartlett, Content Manager, NOKAMO.
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