Growing up on a farm in WA, many of my days were spent out and about in the bush land. Whether I was playing or working, the memories and smell of wildflowers and sitting on branches of tall trees had a significant impact on me.
The positive impact it had on my wellbeing as a youngster will stay with me for the rest of my life. It helped me to effectively regulate my emotions which has stayed with me throughout my adulthood.
Walking into Pachamama for the first time and seeing the abundant native Bottle Brush and Kangaroo Paws nestled between Common Oaks, Philodendron, and Birds of Paradise among other flora brought back those childhood memories in full and gave me a sense of home, calmness, and tranquillity.
To this day, when I feel stressed and need to calm my emotions, I immerse myself in Pachamama’s beautiful flora and fauna and the world becomes a better place.
One thing you will never see at Pachamama is artificial grass. Also absent are the neat formal garden beds off to the side where they won’t get trampled by curious little exploring feet after a long school day. Pachamama’s gardens grow up and around all areas of our outdoor environment. They are designed to encourage children to interact with the plants through all their senses – by touching and even breaking off leaves to feel, smell or taste. Our nature areas teach textures, shapes, colours and aromas.
You will often see our children incorporating fruit from our Lilly Pilly and giant white Mulberry trees scattered throughout our nearly 6,000 sqm of Pachamama of undulating land to create delicious culinary creations as they become junior chefs in the mud kitchen!
And I can tell you about the many smiling faces and full stomachs during the months of October and November when the Loquat trees are fruiting.
Fragrant herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, are planted along pathways leading up to the playground and mud kitchen. Brushing past them releases their aroma and the intense smell that makes you just want to breathe deeply. The rosemary also has pretty tiny purple flowers (also good for cooking in the mud kitchen).
Just walking around Pachamama’s natural grounds provides the perfect dose of rich sensory information that can help restore our children’s minds and develop their body with the many sounds, smells, textures, temperatures, and colours it offers.
We find that our rich, diverse environment encourages our children to increase their time outside and away from their devices. It aids their physical health, encouraging them to become emotionally and intellectually strong.
One of my favourite things to do at Pachamama is to take the children into our Nature Pond Area and just sit in the shade under a Common Oak tree. We chat together as they sit with their feet dangling in the natural spring water. We play hide and seek (as I did in the bush with my 4 siblings) amongst the Calla Lilys and Philodendrons.
Sitting calmly by the pond formed by the heavy white clay of the land, the children benefit from listening to the sound of the wind rushing through the leaves, rustling the grasses, and rattling the seed pods dangling on some of the plants.
The Loquat tree in November has a fantastic sound to it too. When there is a breeze, it almost sounds like the munching of many children eating its beautiful sweet yellow fruit.
And … at the end of the day after the last child has left, I relish being alone with the symphony of frogs croaking and crickets singing that invariably replenishes my soul in preparation for the delightful surprises the next day will bring.