Discover the Wondrous Wildlife of Woodlands
An exciting 3-year project based at Cromer’s Wood in Sittingbourne funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund reconnect people to the crafts and skills of traditional woodland management that benefit both wildlife and people.
Find out about the plants and animals that live here in this unique woodland Cromer's Wood, as it changes over time. Discover how the woodland provides all that they need.
Adventures in Woodlands with lots to Make and Do
An ancient coppice woodland offers up many unique habitats to explore as well as a range of different materials that can be turned into many things from a modest tent peg to a woodland bench, or a nature-inspired piece of artwork. Discover the many ways in which coppice materials can be used to make and do.
Wooden it Be Crafty Events and Activities
Check out the Journey So Far
August to November 2018
Hello all in our last web update we shared with you that we were gearing up for a summer of arts and crafts event and three other events a returning favourite moths and butterfly ID and A new one to the project a bat walk and a Halloween themed storytelling event. In this update, we will be sharing the success of the events
Moths and Butterflies ID and Bat Walk
Following on from the success of the last year moths and butterflies ID day, we decide that we should run another one this year, but this year we decided to also run a bat walk at Cromer's wood. Both of these events were run by Alison Ruyter, who has run events of this style at many of the trusts other reserves.
The bat walk started with gathering people for a brief chat about bat detectors and how they work and other bat facts. The walk worked great and there was a bonus of the fact that we had the moth and butterfly ID event the day after so we had a Moth trap set up, this allowed people to see some examples of the bats food sources. The setup of the moth trap gave us a bonus discovery of an elephant hawk moth caterpillar.
The moth and butterfly ID was a great success again this year. The moth trap was well stocked and there was a large number of different moth species to look as well as the elephant hawk moth caterpillar from the bat walk the night before. We also created some butterfly feeding stations which was an activity the children really enjoyed doing.
Karen Crosby Summer Art series
This summer we had the pleasure of having Karen Crosby a Swale based artist and her sister Tina run a series on events at Cromer's wood. The idea of these events was to be crafty and creative with natural products most of which were sourced from the woods.
Tree faces and mud monsters
Karen first event of her summer art series happen to be on one of the hottest day of the summer so it was very fortunate that this event was all about decorating trees with fantastic clay faces, the trees also provided welcome cover from the sun. The event was well attended and both the children and adults really got into creating faces. They quickly realised all of the materials that they needed to decorate their faces could be gathered from nature and that nature can be beautiful in its own right.
Twig and Fix
Twig and fix was an event idea that was inspired from the work of Andy Goldsworthy a British landscape sculptor, photographer and environmentalist who produces site-specific sculptures and land art situated in nature. The basic idea of Twig and fix was to find and decorate natural openings found in trees whether it be a crack in a tree truck or a space between to branches. The event produced some wonderful pieces, one of the best parts of the event was watching a brother and sister team up, bounce ideas off each and work together to make one of the best piece art that day.
Magical flowers and clay creatures
Over the summer our events have had a loose fantasy theme to them, this being the case an event creating flowers and creatures with fantasy inspiration fitted in nicely. The flowers and creatures came in a great number of different shapes and sizes from hedgehogs and snails to monsters and fairies; a lot of fun was had. Some of the creatures went home with their creators and some found homes at the woods.
Portals of Nature
The last of Karen events was something new for us because it was run on a Sunday rather than own usual mid-week time. This event was all about willow weaving and weaving them into circles that looked like a ships portholes, this event required participates to work as a team as the portholes were too large be made by one person. The end result was an impressive installation.
Wood wands and Tree mobiles
For this event we called on the help of another Swale artist Sioux Peto. Sioux is known in the Swale area for her work with the Murston heart project whose aim is was working with the local community to shape a new future for Murston Old Church and its churchyard.
For this event we wanted to tap into Sioux interest in fantasy and her passion for using recycled materials in her artwork. For this event she ran two different workshops one where people created wooden wands with wood gathered from the woods, decorated with materials that where gathered to be given a new use and empowered with Sioux’s magical fairy dust. Her other activity was making mobiles designed to be hung in trees. These mobiles were made from wood that was gathered from the woods and decorated with feathers, leaves and other nature products.
Spooky Tree stories
Our final event of the year was a Halloween themed storytelling and story writing work shop. The event was ran by John Kirk an nationally known storyteller who throughout the year runs story writing work shop and does large scale storytelling productions.
For our final event of the year we made use of the forest school base camp and area in the reserve often used by our forest schools team when they are running sessions at the reserve. We had a fire, for two reasons one for to add to the atmosphere to the event and the second was because the weather on the day was colder than we had be used too. A shelter was need as the rain and hail came. For those that braved the elements they were treated to a great day with John treating them to some fantastic folk tales and helped the children write and develop their own stories.
April to July 2018
Mini Projects, Reserve changes and Corporate Volunteers.
Our first mini project.
In our last update we were still working to develop our mini project programme. Since then we have run our first mini project with The Abbey School Faversham.
We worked with a group of 8 children aged between 12 and 13. The group were put forward for the project for a variety of reasons; some lacked confidence and others struggled academically, for some this was a reward for their academic achievements.
The aim was by the end of the week to put on an event for a group of invited guests. So for the rest of the week the group was taught the skills they would need for the event, such as fire management taught by our own Forest Schools, greenwood working to make decorations and cooking skills taught by the Community Chef.
The group’s event was a great success and all of the individuals that were involved really enjoyed the experience.
The woods are going through changes
The Suez Communities Trust project ‘Down the Woodland Path’ is a project aimed at improving accessibility to the reserve as well as enhancing the visitor experience.
The work started with the installation of a brand new viewing platform by the pond to replace the old bird hide, then a pair of new picnic benches. Both of these were supplied by Marmax Ltd a company that specialises in recycled plastic products. They have been installed by Benton Landscapes a Kent based gardener.
The next job was to improve the entrance track and the main path through the woods. The entrance track has been levelled and resurfaced so the big potholes are a thing of the past, the main path through the woods has been widened and levelled so that wheelchair users can know enjoy the reserve with greater ease. These works were completed by Digger Dave and his fantastic team.
Corporates volunteers have been supporting us too
We have been making some rustic resting benches with the help of Concur Technologies who came to do some corporate volunteering.
We had a group 8 people who came out to help create two rustic benches using traditional greenwood working techniques and hand tools. We provided them lunch that was cooked on our fire pit. None of the group had done any work like this before but all of them enjoyed the experience and learn new and unusual skills.
Our series of summer events are in full swing and we have already run two public events so far this year.
The first event was a tree walk focusing on myths and legends surrounding trees with a craft activity making tree sprit faces. The next was a fantastic fairy door trail walk that was self-lead with a customised map to follow and a craft activity making wild fairy masks. For anyone that missed the event but is still interested in following the fairy door trail it will remain at the woods all summer and the map will be available to download from the website.
Still to come this summer is a series of events that will be led by Karen Crosby a local artist and we also have a second local artist Sioux Peto returning to run an event at the end of August. The Wooden it Be Crafty team will be putting on two Wildlife events, an evening Bat walk and one looking at the Moths and Butterflies of Cromer’s Wood. Both of these are events are being led by Alison Ruyter our Medway and mid-Kent downs area warden.
January to March 2018
Youth forum and the Mini Projects
A new exciting project that we have been developing with the aim to provide the young people of swale a unique opportunity to develop new life skills, this has been supported by the Swale Youth Forum.
We have been trying to develop a mini-project programme for young people to give them some practical life skills such as; financial budgeting, event planning, time and risk management by planning and holding an event for a number of guests to attend. The project focuses on greenwood working and woodland heritage, but really it is all about getting outdoors and having fun.
We have attended two Swale Youth Forum meetings to date to promote these mini projects to the various schools who are involved. The meetings are always fun and informative to attend and it has been great to see the highest level of local government in attendance and answering to the school children.
Cromer’s Wood Improvements
Winter has also provided us with the chance to make some improvements to the reserve such as a brand new custom made sign and the removal of the old bird hide.
Skillnet’s eco shed project is a partner group of Wooden it Be Crafty and their aim is to teach disadvantaged individuals practical skills with the aim of getting them into work. So when we had the chance to create a new sign for the entrance of the reserve we couldn’t think of anyone better for the task.
During the winter we have had a number of different volunteer groups from our project partners helping us, they have been learning the ancient art of coppicing as a woodland management technique.
There have been three groups so far that have braved the elements to come out on one of our coppicing days; they have all gone away having learned some valuable skills not least of all how to safely fell a tree. Cooking sausages over the fire for lunch has been one of the highlights of each of these events, allowing each group to relax and bond around a fire at lunchtime. Gemma Hayes has been leading these days for us; she is a patient and gentle teacher who has lots of experience of conservation work having worked for both Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Kent High Weald Partnership previously.
Suez Bid And upcoming Changes to Cromer's Wood
At the end of last year, we applied for a funding bid from Suez communities trust so that we could make some improvements to the reserve for its visitors. This bid was successful and the works will be starting soon.
When ‘Wooden it be Crafty’ started we had a project target to seek funding to improve the accessibility to the reserves for disabled visitors and improve experiences for all visitors. So we applied for a funding bid with Suez Communities Trust which we were successful in obtaining.
February till December 2017
A recap of the fantastic first year that the ‘Wooden it Be Crafty’ have had with a number of very successful events run at Cromer's wood as well as a number of events that we have been lucky enough to attend.
For the first year of this project, we have held seven events at Cromer’s Wood exploring themes such as tree ID and the myths and legends that surround them, Butterflies and Moths, Natures’ Favourite Foods and Minibeast hunting. These summer events were well attended and we will have another series of events with different themes over this summer 2018.
We have been running ‘greenwood working workshops’ for some of our partners making Bat boxes, mallets, tent pegs as well as a hand carved memorial sign for the Quays Riverside.
Also, we have taken Wooden it be Crafty on the road to various public events around the Swale area; at Milton Creek Country Park and Oare Gunpowder Works. Lots of people enjoyed making coppice pencils with our pencil making machine and news of the project has been spread throughout the area.
Lastly, in cooperation with Optivo and Families on our Doorstep project, we ran a 6 week Forest School program based at Cromer's wood one of the few times that forest school has been run at a reserve.
Kathryn Barton the forest school leader summed up the summer program;
In my opinion this project has been a huge success and, during reflection on the last session, we were pleased to see that all parents and children were keen to spend more time in the woods and asked about future family woodland events.
It is nice to see how comfortable everyone appeared to be at spending extended periods of time in the woods showing an increased connection with nature. Their sadness expressed that these regular sessions were coming to an end.
Look out for more Forest School next year!
Things to do at Cromer's Wood
Faerie Door Trail at Cromer’s Wood.
We are currently working with community groups to produce more Faerie doors for this years event. Once we have them and they are installed at Cromer's Wood we will update this page with a new map of their locations.