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Children enjoy animals, flowers and plants at ‘Muddy Church’
THIS church in Gosport now cares for chickens and tortoises!
The animals were unveiled to excited children at a launch event for the ‘Muddy Church’ allotment space outside St Matthew’s, Bridgemary. The animals are kept in a fenced-off area, where the church also grows flowers and vegetables in multiple beds.
The area is for the whole community to use – to find out more about God’s precious gift of nature, and to learn how to care for plants and animals.
For the launch day, the church invited children from the nearby Badger Pre-School, as well as children from the Little Wilds outdoor stay and play. They loved stroking the chickens and tortoises, planting seeds and watering the plants.
Both groups are likely to use the area in future. The Little Wilds group hire part of the church’s grounds to offer outdoor play for around 15 pre-school children every Monday morning. They’ll shortly be expanding to Thursdays too. They offer 90 minutes of play, including a mud kitchen, water play, painting, a sandpit and other outdoor activities that parents may not be able to do at home. To book, click here.
And the allotment area will also help the church’s interaction with the Badger pre-school, based at the neighbouring Holbrook Primary School.
Traditional team vicar the Rev Samantha Martell said: “We wanted to have some animals to help us with that interaction with families and children's groups. Of course, we’ll be using that area for our regular ‘Muddy Church’ sessions, which happen once a month on Saturday mornings. We welcome children to learn how to tend an allotment space, and teach them about God’s care for us.
“Our community café – St Matts on the Corner – is open every morning, Monday to Saturday, from 8:45am to 1:30pm, serving hot drinks, snacks and lunches. The vegetables we grow and the eggs laid by the chickens will be used in this café – and in the free meals we offer to families in need each week.
“We’d like to offer the chance for young people to gain experience in catering and customer service. I’m told there aren’t many Saturday jobs for teenagers in this area, so we’d love to give them a chance to work in our café.
“And we also welcome a weekly group for those aged 16-25 who have special needs, called Shining Stars. They often bring their own entertainment, but are welcome to make use of our Muddy Church space too.”
The new allotment area, which includes homes for both chickens and tortoises and multiple flower beds, is enclosed using fencing provided by Gosport Borough Council. That was one of the reasons why the Mayor of Gosport, Cllr Martin Pepper, was asked to formally open the space - by cutting a ribbon.
And for the launch day, children and their parents and carers were also invited to eat some allotment-themed cake made by cafe volunteer Ali Ryan, who also runs Ali’s Bakery.
St Matthew's, Bridgemary
Bridgemary Gosport, PO13 ONL