Children merrily sort through conkers, pine cones, acorns and berries that they have spent the past few days collecting. They choose their favourite and get covered in soil as they fill their pots, label them, plant and water. Later on their fingers get stained purple as they help stewing fresh blackberries and windfall apples to make a warm crumble.
This is the aspiration behind seed gathering season, an annual autumn festival run by the tree council. And your class or group can join in. The idea is to get as many people as possible outside collecting and planting seeds, foraging for berries, nuts and fruit to eat and enjoying everything that autumn has to offer them.
Planting trees from seed can be a bit tricky. Check out the guidance sheets on the tree council website for some good tips. Make sure the children know that not all of the seeds are going to turn into trees to avoid any disappointment later. You could turn this into a mini science experiment for older children by seeing what seeds, soil and location lead to good germination rates.
For ideas for foraging have a look at the hedgerow harvest website, there's ideas for ways you can link this topic to a range of curriculum areas, some nice recipes, identification of edible plant species and advice on managing risks when doing an activity like this.
If you can't get out foraging with your group you can still make things using bits and pieces that other people have collected from their gardens or local area. It doesn't have to be edible, autumn colours make for lovely artwork.
Or have a go at this really quick apple and blackberry crumble recipe. If you're lucky enough to be allowed a fire in your school grounds this is perfect for cooking over it, otherwise try a camping stove or if all else fails just do it inside.
Super quick crumble
You will need:
400g porridge oats, 100 - 200g brown sugar, 200g margarine, apples, blackberries
The quantities in this recipe don't really matter very much, it will still taste great even if you don't measure everything out exactly.
Skin and chop up the apples and put them in a pan with a small amount of water (a tablespoon is plenty for 3 or 4 apples). Give the blackberries a quick wash and add these with a little bit of the sugar. You'll only need a couple of teaspoons if you are using eating apples, but you'll need a bit more than this if you have cooking apples. Heat the mixture for a little while until the apples are soft.
Fry the oats in the margarine, once the mixture has come together add the sugar and mix again. Pour the fruit mixture into the bottom of a tray and sprinkle the oat mixture on top. Voila! It's ready to serve.
This years festival runs from 23rd September - 23rd October.