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  • Writer's pictureLauren Kinnersley

John Muir Award

The past few years have had their challenges for us all, with the backdrop of the pandemic. The teenage years are challenging enough to navigate, and this has just added another layer. So it has been my absolute privilege to support two groups of teenagers over the past year, to spend time together in the wonderful therapeutic space that is the Weleda biodynamic garden.

We have had the opportunity to visit across the year, and observe and experience the changing season together - with all that it has to offer and teach us. We have explored nature with our senses: feeling the cold chill of Winter, the soft breeze of Spring, to the heat of summer. We have smelt the wildflowers of Spring and Summer, and the earthy smells of decay in Autumn. We have tasted our way though the season from the Spring leaves and flowers to the fruits of Summer and Autumn. We have had a chance to give back to nature and care for it - managing the woodland and improving the biodiversity. We have had loads of fun along the way, and made new friends.

All this was part of an adventure to achieve the John Muir Award. This is a nationally recognised environmental award scheme which supports people to connect, enjoy and care for wild spaces. The Award is an holistic approach promoting awareness, understanding and action for nature. To achieve the Discovery Level, young people need to spend a minimum of 25 hours in nature.

In the video below Angus shares in his own words, his experience.

The 4 challenges at the heart of the John Muir Award are outlined below:

Discover a Wild place:We focused on bio-dynamic land managed by Weleda. The land showcases the very best of organic land management, with plenty to explore with woodland, Spring and Summer wildflower meadows and ponds.

Explore it: We visited the site once a month for almost a year, so we could experience it though all the seasons. We foraged the edible plants - and tasted wild garlic pesto, dandelion pancakes, nettle tea, wild plums and apples. We pond dipped and explored the pond life; we identified the native trees and the wild flowers in the meadows. We met voles, grass snakes, newts and damsel flies... We marveled at the proliferation of fungi in Autumn and learnt about their role in nature.

Conserve it: We grew trees from seeds; we planted new trees, and removed encroaching sycamore saplings. We coppiced over grown trees, removed encroaching bramble and created dead hedges.

Share your experience: Everyone did this in their own way - through their music and poetry; through art; one created a guide to wild edibles on the site; and one created a video about the john Muir award to inspire other young people; and one created a power point presentation of the wildflowers they had photographed and identified on the site.

The young people had new experiences, benefited from time in nature, learnt new things and came away with a certificate that shows their willingness to engage and make a difference.

You can find out more about the award at

I will be starting a new group late in the year, so please spread the word and get in touch if you are interested.

Thanks to Weleda and a team of amazing volunteers who made this possible: Denise McLean, Rebecca Mercer, Stephen Holland and Sarah Wainwright.

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