Many of us are discovering our ‘green fingers’ during the coronavirus lockdown. Having contact with nature improves our happiness, mental wellbeing and resilience in times of adversity.

Getting into the great outdoors is difficult right now but there are many ways we can connect with nature, even without a garden.

Here we look at some activities, to enjoy alone or with others at home, that reconnect us to our planet.

🌱 1. Start bird watching

A Short Walk brid feeder

See how many different types of bird you can spot with this eco bird feeder. This treat for birds is available from the Oxfam Online Shop with profits going to Oxfam’s work. It’s a simple way of using food waste for the birds in your area. It’s made from recycled plant pots collected throughout the UK.

🌱 2. Provide a home for bees

A wooden house for bees

This handmade bee house is designed to provide nest cells for solitary bees, of which there are 240 species in the UK. Species such as red mason bees and leafcutter bees nest in tubes or tunnels. You can encourage these busy pollinators by providing artificial nest sites like this house.

🌱 3. Get creative with plants

Whether creating works of art or honing photography skills, our wonderful volunteers, staff and supporters have been sharing the different ways they’ve been connecting with their environment.

Flowers on Abi's Instagram

Oxfam supporter Abi took 26 stunning photos of plants in her garden in 26 minutes for the #twopointsixchallenge in support of Oxfam’s coronavirus response.

“It was a lockdown challenge, so I took photos in the garden and shared on Instagram. I also attempted to ID the plants as I went,” says Abi.

Tree art by Oxfam shop volunteer Tina

Shop volunteer Tina has also been enjoying garden life, “I volunteer with a great bunch in Horley Surrey and miss seeing everyone. I’ve been spending time in my garden and getting creative.”

Oxfam shop volunteer Rory's plant

And Rory, who also works as a volunteer, has been planting seeds.

“Bought butterfly-friendly seeds in my [Oxfam] shop as a stocking filler for my wife. Looking great so far and bound to have lots of flowers there soon,” he says.

🌱 4. Upcycle old furniture into homes for plants

Empty upcycled planter

Image: Richard Hutchinson

Upcycled planter with rocket

Image: Richard Hutchinson

“We upcycled shelves someone was getting rid of into a space-saving shoe rack for our flat. Then we used the off-cuts to make this upcycled planter.” – Sophie, Oxfam Web Team.

We know many parents and carers are looking for engaging activities to do with their children or that children can do with minimal supervision.

Here are a couple of activities we’ve chosen for numbers 5 and 6 on our list…

Send pictures of your creations to support@oxfam.org.uk or tag us @oxfameducation – we’d love to know how you get on!

🌱 5. Build your own mini wormery

Wormery video still

Oxfam has been working with communities around the world to provide specially designed toilets which use worms to decompose human waste and turn it into clean, safe fertiliser.

Toilets have been installed in Sierra Leone and adapted for use in communal camps in Myanmar, Ethiopia and Bangladesh, with the aim of building hundreds more.

Building your own wormery is a fun way to teach children about how nature recycles itself and how humble household waste can become invaluable food for plants and insects.

🌱 6. Do the floating garden challenge

Rice growing, Ghana

Image: Nana Kofi Acquah/Oxfam

The floating garden challenge is another hands on challenge children love. The challenge is to design and build a model structure that will allow crops to grow even in areas that might flood.

Children will learn about the difficulty farmers in Bangladesh and the UK experience trying to grow crops on land that is regularly flooded. Then they’ll be challenged to make a model of a floating structure / garden that will enable crops to grow.

Testing if the ‘garden’ floats in a washing up bowl, bath or garden pond is great fun!

🌱 7. Help protect the income of farmers

For many people around the world, the coronavirus is a crisis on top of a crisis. By making a donation to Oxfam, you could help farmers cope with droughts and floods, and keep growing food for local communities to maintain a vital income.

A Syrian refugee woman with a harvest of cauliflower

Image: Nesma AlNsour/Oxfam

Donations enable vital work like that taking place in 4 greenhouses Oxfam has built in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Here, Oxfam staff are working with women to help develop new skills through hands-on learning, so they can earn a small income by cultivating vegetables for sale in the nearby communities.

Oxfam's coronavirus emergency response appeal

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