Pennies Green Initiatives

At Pennies Day Nurseries, our ethos is to do all we can to operate as environmentally sustainable as possible. To date our most ambitious green initiative is our Forest School. We are aware that there is always more we can do, and that we are at the very beginning of our sustainability journey, but our aim is to take sustainable steps forward, and find friends who will join us on this journey. Take a look at some of the current initiatives below.

Awards for the environment
Pennies have been working towards some demanding targets set by others offering environmental awards. Our aim in achieving these awards is to learn from experts and add our own creativity and passion to bring about a level of achievement that means we can show we are making a positive difference when it comes to sustainability. At present all our early years settings hold Eco-Schools Green Flag awards and in 2023 both Kent based settings retained the highest (gold) award status awarded by the Kent Wildlife Trust, an achievement that saw us listed amongst their “nature heroes.” Mark Cross, in East Sussex, isn’t eligible to enter the Wilder Kent Awards but that setting pioneered our work towards environmental awards, becoming the first Pennies’ nursery to achieve an Eco-Schools Green flag in 2022, and retaining it in 2023 when the other settings achieved their first green flags. The company intends hold to the high standards and retain these awards into the future.

Many of the details of specific activities below helped us on this journey. Our belief is that by working openly with awarding organisations and discussing this work with parents and online we will find support for what we are doing. We are always happy to discuss this, and to hear the opinions of others on this subject.

Win/Win Partnerships
From 2022 Pennies has openly sought out partners involved in sustainability and environmental work. We have established links in what we present to them as a win/win scheme whereby we provide resources (including in some cases small sums of money) and use our social media to raise awareness of the work done by schemes like rewilding projects. What we ask in return is that our partners provide us with things (for example, photographs) that will help us in our work with young children. In the simplest terms this often means scaling down explanations about their work to the point they can be understood by a four-year-old.

Bug Hotels

We have installed bug hotels and other insect accommodations at all our settings. When we have worked with others, notably Detling Parish Council on projects from our Hockers Lane setting, we have also been able to install bug hotels in other places and encourage our children and their families to visit them. In doing this we can explain to young children that the smallest creatures want the same as people – to have a safe place to spend the day, and things around them that they like. This particular message was behind one bug hotel which we installed with the kind permission of the landowners, in a wood directly opposite the front door of our Hockers Lane nursery, meaning we can explain to children that their front door faces the bugs. This bug hotel can easily be seen from the Hockers Lane front door during autumn and winter after the leaves have fallen.

Children at all our settings can see insect accommodation and watch bugs and flying insects coming and going. In doing so, the children have lots of learning opportunities. They can explore and learn more about their natural environment and there’s no better way to learn, than through first-hand experiences. Children can learn about insects and the importance they play in our environment, with plenty of ways they can get involved in the construction of the bughouse.

Vegetable Peelings Composter
Pennies at Newnham Court have introduced composters so we can compost the kitchen vegetable peelings. These include an eco-friendly tumbling composter, allowing us to create compost for our vegetable patches. Children can help with composting by placing vegetable peelings into the composter and turning the handle, to allow the composter to do its job. This process is so easy that some of the smallest children can take part and begin to understand why we are doing this and the difference it makes in terms of saving waste and helping new food to grow. All our settings have been involved in composting and using our own compost to grow things in our gardens.

Vegetable Garden
In our planter areas in the nursery gardens, we grow our own herbs and vegetables. Once these are established the children can pick the leaves and be able to smell the wonderful aromas they give off, before being used to flavour their lunches.

In the mud kitchen areas, the children plant their own potatoes, carrots, dwarf beans, runner beans, courgettes, butternut squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Once they have grown and ripened, the children pick them to be cooked in their lunches. Mud kitchens are also popular places for children to play, all year round, meaning they enjoy being outdoors in areas where their food grows, and get used to seeing nature at work around them. We have had help from the RHS campaign for school gardening who gave us guidance on what to plant and when.

Fresh Vegetable and Fruit Juicing At Mealtimes
We have introduced juicing at mealtimes. All rooms have access to a juicer and their own supply of fruit and vegetables, which the children can help press their own juice drinks. This healthy option allows all our children to benefit from the goodness of the vitamins produced from their fresh produce. It’s a fantastic way for them to learn about the process of planting a seed to drinking and eating the produce.

Introduction of Plant-Based Foods
There are so many reasons that Pennies have introduced a plant-based menu to its 4-week rolling menu, but one of the main reasons is conserving land. We understand that a plant-based diet is better for the environment. Introducing a plant-based menu is a win for environmental sustainability and moves us forward towards a more sustainable environment. When national initiatives – like the Veganuary event at the start of the year – take place, Pennies often make menu changes to offer children and families the choice to take part.

On-Going Initiatives
As part of the Eco-Schools Green Flag all our settings now have eco-committees with members of staff and children working together to make plans, agree changes, gather evidence and learn on our journey to be the best we can be with regard to sustainability and protecting the environment, this applies to all our nursery settings, including the forest school. Feel free to ask questions, or make comments because we are always learning and an important aspect of that learning is engaging with parents, carers and our partners in environmental work.

Hockers Lane

149 Hockers Lane, Weavering, Maidstone, Kent ME14 5JY
01622 630207
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Mark Cross

Mark Cross, Crowborough, East Sussex,
01892 852187
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Newnham Court

Newnham Court Shopping Village, Bearsted Road, Maidstone, Kent ME14 5LH
01622 737733
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Head office

23 Turkey Court, Turkey Mill Business Park, Ashford Road Maidstone, Kent, ME14 5PP
01622 737733 ext. 2
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