'Come with Pip to the wild, glorious, overgrown jungle at the bottom of her garden. But what’s Grandad up to, clearing the brambles, digging the earth, and planting vegetables?
Nutmeg Puppet Company and Eastfeast have launched an innovative project for three to six year-olds to learn where food for humans and food for wildlife comes from. The project consists of a touring puppet show with accompanying workshops and a comprehensive education pack.
They are bound to clash. Grandad shuts the gate, Pip jumps on the seedlings, and something eats the peas. How will they ever find a way to share the garden and all get enough to eat?'
'The project sprang from our belief that people have become dangerously detached from the natural world and our place in and dependence on it. We think that children need to play out of doors and experience the wild, but also to discover the delights of growing their own food.
Pip's Wildlife Garden started touring in January 2010. Funding has enabled 50 schools, playgroups and nurseries from rural and urban deprived areas in Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex to see the show. With support from Sustainable Development Funds, gardeners and artists from Eastfeast will run practical workshops after the show in 40 schools around the Broads, Suffolk Coast and Heaths, and Dedham Vale, doing bio-surveys, and making insect hotels and butterfly feeders from recycled materials.
The show is about how these two human needs don't always fit together.
The animals and plants look and behave in a realistic way; they only speak to Pip in a dreamlike moonlit scene. We are not sentimental about the fact that they need to eat each other (and do so) in order to live'.
In researching the show, Meg Amsden observed gardening activities at Yoxford and Holton Primary Schools, watched Mary Pendered of Eastfeast in action at Aldeburgh Primary, and joined in with a Forest Schools class at Antingham and South Repps Primary, sharing sticky burnt marshmallows around the camp fire and watching a lot of sliding down muddy slopes and swinging from trees. She also consulted the staff at Holt Hall Field Studies Centre, and Beccles Children's Centre.
The show includes puppets, storytelling and songs. It was written, through devising, by Meg Amsden with the performer Steve Peck and the director Joy Haynes. Meg also designed and made it with her team at Nutmeg, who include textile artists Jenny Nutbeem, Jacky Linney and Helen Rolfe; Jessie Gillilan; puppet and prop maker Molly Barret; and sculptor/cartoonist Tim Hunkin, who constructed the stage with Abby Lee.
Nico Brown composed and recorded the original music for the show, and Nicky Rowbottom compiled the education pack.
Project funded by: The Ashden Trust, Arts Council England East, the Broads Authority SDF, Suffolk Coast and Heaths Unit SDF, Ernest Cook Trust, Dedham Vale & Stour Valley Project SDF, Adnams Charitable Trust, Ipswich Arts Grants and Norfolk County Council Arts Project Fund.