Connecting children with nature – a review of the Mud and Bloom subscription box

August 4, 2018 at 7:48 am 8 comments

Dave's runner beans for sowing - the 8 years that I had my allotment I loved the time I spent there – the big expanse of sky as I walked through the gate, the fresh air, the swathes of colour, the neighbourly chats, the sweaty brow, the tired muscles, the fresh food on my plate.  Even just thinking about it as I sit on my bed at home, laptop hot on my legs, makes me smile (and sigh wistfully).  It was such a hard decision to let it go in 2014 after finding it too difficult to juggle the time it needed with life as a new Mum.  Fast forward 4 years and I’m so happy to be back on the plot growing on a small patch of soil on our allotment guardian Dave’s plot.  What really gladdens my heart is to be gardening with my boys.  I may not be as productive as I used to be but there’s nothing like seeing a child’s curiosity and excitement grow alongside the seeds-to-plants-to-food they help nurture.  Both boys are so willing to muck in, literally often, and I hope we may be seeding a life long love of connecting with nature through allotment gardening together.
brothers at the allotment
Not everyone has the opportunity to garden together so I know how lucky we are.  There are some great ways for engaging children with nature and our recent involvement with the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild challenge and Friends of the Earth’s Great British Bee Count are just a couple.  Some of our favourite outdoor spaces often provide nature activities in the school holidays like the butterfly scavangar trail at Crickley Hill last year or the Nature explorers days held at Robinswood Hill.  For people who don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces there’s now a way of bringing a little bit of the outdoors inside with a Mud and Bloom subscription box, delivered to your door on the first day of each month.
Mud and Bloom subscription box image copy
Mud and Bloom nature crafts and gardening activities have been developed by Anja Ffrench who believes passionately in connecting children to nature.  Anja says:

Studies show there is increasingly a disconnect between children and nature, resulting in increased stress and leading to depression in later life. It is vital that children have regular contact with nature, with proven benefits including enhanced brain development, improved concentration and mental health – as well as helping them stay fit and healthy.  I hope the Mud & Bloom nature crafts and gardening boxes will help inspire families to get their children outdoors and more connected to nature and gardening.”

After giving up full time work Anja enrolled on an RHS Horticulture Course planning to set up a gardening business that would fit around looking after her children.  She began writing about children and nature on her Mud & Bloom bloom blog and was overwhelmed by responses from other parents wanting to find ways of getting their children into nature.  She saw a way of combining her love of gardening, crafting and being outdoors to create activities for busy parents to do with their children at home.  Anja’s boys had enjoyed a couple of monthly craft subscription boxes but there was nothing available based on gardening or nature.  And so Mud and Bloom was born and launched in December 2017. 

Mud and Bloom July subscription box

I contacted Anja to see if she would like Euan to try her subscription service and having seen what a diligent reviewer he is she kindly sent us the July box.  I intended to keep it aside for the school holidays but after sneaking a peep into the box decided it would make a wonderful Sunday afternoon activity for respite from the ongoing heatwave.  Although it’s aimed at 3-8 year olds I knew 2 year old Luca would want to get in on the action and I was able to pull together a few of our craft supplies to match Euan’s so they could work on it together.  It’s wonderful that the box provides everything you need for a seasonal gardening activity (instructions, quizzes, seeds and even compost) and a crafting activity (building materials, seasonal treasures, tiny tubes of glue or paint). Activities have been created by qualified teachers and they support the National Curriculum with influence from Forest School, Steiner and Montessori education.
Mud and Bloom subscription box_growing seeds - nipitinthebud
The subscription box is really affordable at £7.95 per month including UK postage and there is no minimal subscription so you can cancel at any time.  You can also arrange delivery as a gift with a 3 month subscription which is such a fabulous feature or buy a previous box.  I’ve often looked at Magazine subscriptions or gift boxes as an alternative to presents for Euan but a year’s subscription becomes an expensive suggestion. The subscription box arrives addressed to your child which is so exciting and I love that the packaging is re-usable.

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This crafting activity was great for both boys and contrary to what people say about a toddler’s ability to concentrate Luca was absorbed in his gluing and sticking for nearly as long as Euan.  If it hadn’t been such a hot day I think Euan would have happily extended his Mud and Bloom crafting activity by decorating the delivery box with the leftover tape as a keepsake for his instruction cards.  I always appreciate it when packaging can be turned into a rainy day activity too!
Mud and Bloom subscription box_gluing toddler - nipitinthebudMud and Bloom subscription box_toddler button jam jar - nipitinthebud
If you’re still unsure about the value of a subscription box here are Anja’s top 3 reasons to subscribe to Mud and Bloom :

1/  Educational – The activities will help your children engage and connect with nature – helping them learn about and interact with plants, insects and the seasons.

2/  Fun – They will have fun growing their own fruit, vegetables and plants and creating their own crafts inspired by nature and the seasons.

3/  Easy – The boxes will be delivered to your door with all the seeds and materials needed for the gardening activity – there’s no need for you to have a garden or tools.  Nature craft activities are designed around things that can easily be found in parks and gardens!

Mud and Bloom subscription box_flower jars - nipitinthebudI had fun decorating a jar too and will be using it for storing all the ice lolly sticks we’re collecting for an ”I’m bored” ideas jar.). We haven’t managed to do any artwork with our own nature paint brushes yet but there’s a terrific review at Lisa’s notebook that shows you how that might turn out.

Disclosure: we were sent the July subscription box free in exchange for a review. We were not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Me and Mine [July 2018] Love never ends – in memory of Mum

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tina @  |  August 5, 2018 at 7:05 am

    WOW! My 6 year old would love this! We have an allotment and she’s down there all the time. Her Pumpkins are already bigger than her head haha #MySundayPhoto

  • 2. MotherGeek  |  August 5, 2018 at 7:06 am

    This looks brilliant! Love the first photo 🙂 #MySundayPhoto

  • 3. Carol  |  August 5, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Family gardening is wonderful but I also love the little jar vases they decorated.

  • 4. debsrandomwritings  |  August 5, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Nic, it must have been heartbreaking having to give up something you loved, but everything worked out alright in the end, Dave sounds like an angel. Connecting with nature, even in some small way, can make us feel so much better inside. Watching how creatures live and plants grow is magical through the eyes of a child. Knowing that we can eat what we grow must encourage healthy eating in children too. The monthly subscription box sounds like a great idea for filling a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.


  • 5. Connie at Weeds to Wild  |  September 2, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Such a cute idea! I’m going to go do the ‘nature paintbrushes’ with my son as soon as he’s up from nap!

  • 6. Ann  |  September 9, 2018 at 11:57 pm

    I love this idea for a subscription box! I would definitely get something like this in the states if I ever have children. I enjoy doing crafts as well and all of these activities would be great to share with children. Thank you for sharing on the #MyGloriousGardens September Link party!

  • 7. oldhouseintheshires  |  September 22, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    This is such a great idea but I feel sad that it’s needed at all tbh. Children and mud should go hand in hand but I know that doesn’t happen for many, many children. Therefore, this is a good idea for parents who want to provide opportunities that normally their children wouldn’t have enjoyed. Thank you for joining in with the `September # MyGloriousGardens. We hope to see you next month. X

  • 8. Kids of the Wild  |  September 25, 2018 at 4:19 am

    I love this idea for a subscription box. And didn’t the boys decorate those jars beautifully. #MyGloriousGardens


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About Nip it in the bud

Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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Beautiful wood block print from our dear friend @elluminations of our boys on a beach in the Isle of Wight at the start of the school holidays. We returned to find my Mum's health deteriorating and she died 3 weeks later. Our world has been turned upside down but when I look at this picture I can feel the peace, hear the lap of the waves and smile at the tenderness of the moment - two #bestfriendbrothers absorbed in their own present moment. Thank you El, this means so much to me (for commission's of your own photos or El's artwork as wood blocks visit her Etsy shop)
E's had a hard time the last few weeks following an incident that triggered a really big stress response for his 6 year old bereaved mind. Today we've made a worry box to help him with his anxiety symptoms and have found the advice on the @youngmindsuk website invaluable. We all need to talk about mental health more especially as it's too easy for grown ups to dismiss a child's misbehaviour without looking for the feelings underlying it. #breakingthestigma #worldmentalhealthday2018
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After school chills @gloucestercathedral @gloscathedral
Best friend brothers. Our #siblingsproject post for this month (link in bio) #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife
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Regrann from @the_tightrope_walker - Emotional Impact 🎗. “CCLG parent survey reveals the emotional impact of childhood cancer.” I read an article by @cclg_uk ; it highlights many of the daily feelings that most parents & carers experience after a child is diagnosed with cancer. We have been unbelievably blessed to have had fantastic support around us since Dylan was diagnosed. The parents at school devised a meal rota & every Friday for months someone would drop over a week’s worth of home cooked food for us to put in the freezer. The amount of pressure that took away from us was immense; we would often be in hospital on rotation with Dylan overnight so it really particularly helped Ruari as Nick & I were often not home until late 💔. Whilst we are surrounded by wonderful friends & people who bend over backwards to help there is still an indescribable darkness that hangs over you once you receive the news that your child has cancer. Emotions are often unpredictable as are the minutes, hours & days. Some days you feel able to talk, other days you just don’t want to get out of bed such is the weight that you carry around constantly. This article touches on so many subtleties & there is little I don’t identify with. The sense of loneliness & isolation, the stress & crippling anxiety, the grief at the loss of a “normal” life, the lack of awareness, the things people say that cut through goes on. The article also highlights the improvement needed in focusing on the parents & carers who are going through horrendous emotional & psychological battles whilst watching their child being treated for cancer. There is such a long list of unseen side effects besides the side effects of the treatments that these children have to endure in order to hopefully be cured. Childhood cancer affects absolutely everything; life really is never the same again & whilst we all wait for our “new normal” we’re still working out how to come to terms with losing the old normal & dealing with perpetual shock. If you have a moment, please read it (link in bio). You never know who might benefit from this kind of awareness. #ccam #livingwithcancer #emotionalimpact #childhoo
3 years of first day at a school photos. How is this little guy growing up so fast - nearer 7 years old than 6! #lovethisboy💙 #nipitinthebudblog

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