Author Lucy Bowyer
People and Wildlife Officer - Rye Harbour Nature Reserve
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood… and after a long hot summer holiday that’s exactly what we prescribed for our Wild Woodland Club goers – a lot of mud.
Now of course we didn’t just all wallow in the mud for a day (although I think that may have been good for the soul, as well as the skin), we had a purpose to our muddy play – building a mud oven. Also known as an earth, clay or cob oven, our mud oven will allow our Wild Things to bake delicious snacks such as bread, pizza and cakes to keep the hunger at bay during our three blissful hours of exploring the fabulous woodland at Swallowtail Hill Farm every last Saturday of the month.
Mud ovens are the most primitive ovens that can be made. They are relatively simple, inexpensive and fun to build, but there was still a lot to do if we wanted to have a mud oven ready by the end of the day. We quickly got the Wild Things working hard: breaking up the clay, chopping the straw that would be mixed with the clay to make the cob, finding a suitable site for the oven, building the base out of bricks and making a sand dome on top of the base to form the clay around.
Next came the fun part… getting REALLY MESSY mixing the clay, straw and water together and forming it into bricks (and doing a bit of clay face painting at the same time). Finally the bricks were wetted and moulded together around the sand dome; a chimney and oven door were marked, to be cut out when the clay has dried.
The oven won’t be ready to use until it has had time to dry out completely, but luckily Katie had brought along one she’d made earlier so that we could have a go at cooking – we’d really earned that pizza after all our hard work!
A huge thank you to Katie and Renzo from the Sussex Wildlife Trust's Forest School team who helped us with our big build.
The Wild Woodland Club is a joint project between the Sussex Wildlife Trust and Swallowtail Hill. The club is for 6-11 year olds and is held on the last Saturday of every month at Swallowtail Hill Farm in Beckley near Rye, East Sussex. Book a place online or to find out more email [email protected] or telephone 0845 337 2948.
How to make a mud oven slideshow