This story was originally written in April 2017 on StoryPark and has been adapted for this blog. StoryPark is a platform we use at Common Digs Forest School for sharing with families and our educational team.

Written by Lisa Menzies, Co-Founder, Common Digs

We were on a search to the willows for signs of medicinal plants but along the way we couldn't help but notice, as H described "a whole trail of dirt". 

We didn't have time. We had an agenda. But we couldn't ignore it. We took the time to let the children explore together a pile of beautiful, soft earth, broken up from a vole. It was luscious. 


They lay on the ground. Running their hands through the soil. Squishing it in their fingers. Looking closely. They flung it a little bit and gently put it on top of each other and themselves. 

Time slowed. Breathing slowed. 

Breathing it all in. 

The beautifulness of the day. 

The beautifulness of our time together. 

We could have rushed them along, time was ticking and we weren't meeting our agenda and hadn't brought our lunches, but we sensed that this moment, this time together would be the most important part of our day. 

Talking and laughing together. Noticing. Contemplating. 

Mc: Dinosaurs dig fast. I found a rock.
E: I found a plant. Oooh look at this plant."
S: Leans in and whispers "Do you know that bugs live in dirt? 


Not everyone was interested in the dirt pile, "I am not going to dig in the dirt. I am not going to get my hands dirty", says A. But they too seemed to recognize the importance of this time together and chose to lay on the ground lazing in the sunshine.






"I am making a real hole," says H. "I am making a dirt road. Sometimes dirt sticks on my fingers." 

Educator Felicia pointed out the dark soil was squishy soil and they took dirt and made dirt balls.

M: I am hunting for dirt balls
Mc to M (while making dirt balls): How did you do that?
E: I think I hear something dead under there.
Educator Lisa: What does dead sound like?
M: Grrrrrrr.

And the zombies are back. Everyone begins to stir, motioning we are ready to move on. 

This was, as Jackie Seidel writes, "a brief inhaled moment of potential awakening. Can we hold ourselves here?" Potential awakening. Potential for so many questions. Potential for a curriculum to contemplate our connection - rocks, dinosaurs, plants, dirt, bugs, fingers death - life - all connected in a pile of dirt. All of us here together, connected. An awakening of our senses. An awakening to the important things. 

"Can we hold ourselves here?”

I can only hope that those moments and times shared not only, "sticks on our fingers" but also our hearts and minds and "holds us here" no matter when and where we are and no matter how fast life is moving or what agenda we have. I hope that we can recall this time and slow down, take the time to contemplate to recall an awakening. To recall and contemplate what a "whole trail of dirt" might offer us and we it. 

Seidel, J and Jardine, D. 2014, Experiments in a Curriculum for Miracles, Ecological Pedagogy, Buddhist Pedagogy, Hermeneutic Pedagogy. P. 121, Peter Lang Publishing Inc, New York, NY USA

Slow summer camp gift-away

In February Common Digs Forest School Turned 5! years old. To celebrate we are having a series of birthday gift-aways. For this one, we are gifting a 2019 Forest School Summer Camp. To enter, tell us about a place in Calgary, a park, a river, maybe a community alley or an abandoned, uncared for space that you experienced “a brief inhaled moment of potential awareness.” Tell us about it in the comment section and be entered for a chance to win a Forest School Summer Camp. Enter your comment by March 27th. Children must be between the ages of 3-7 years old to attend our summer camps.

AuthorLisa Menzies
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Why we’re launching a workshop series + a gift-away


The back story

When Wendy and I started Common Digs in 2013 we dreamt of many ways to connect people to nature.  In our first year we tried many projects and programs - it was a pretty amazing first year – it fed our hearts and fuelled our minds and offered us a glimpse at what Common Digs might become.

You can read more about our journey and what we’ve learned in those first five years here.

It took all of our combined energies to make the forest school program run and because it was what would help us to become financially sustainable, we had to let go of the urban farming project – but we have never lost sight of it. We dreamt of our own working farm, of CSAs of camping adventures and so much more!


We realize now, as much as we want to, we cannot, still five years in, run all of these programs on our own. We have had the benefit of meeting so many wonderful forest school families that are growers, maker, permaculture experts themselves that we realized what was right in front of us – all this expertise that we can hopefully bring to our network and greater Calgary people who are interested in connecting to nature in a variety of different ways themselves – not only for their children.

We are working on many new projects this year that we can’t wait to tell you about – but one we have been quietly launching is our Hand-on Nature Workshop Series.

Were hoping that our Hands-On Nature workshops are more than a one-off but that they are community building.  Bringing community members together sharing expertise, knowledge and stories. Our hope is through partnerships with local experts we can bring exciting, meaningful and beautiful classes for adults to get their hands dirty and bring a connection for them to nature, to themselves and to a community.

Our upcoming workshop will literally get your hands dirty. We are so proud to bring Jodi of BeeLeaf Blooms ( Jodi is a former Forest School parent) and Tricia of Cobblestone Garden Centre for a Flower and Vegetable Seed Starting workshop.

Learn more about it here


Jodi at BeeLeaf Blooms Flower Farm

Celebrating We’re 5! with a gift-away

In February 2019, Common Digs turned 5! To celebrate, we’re gifting one free workshop in the Flower and Vegetable Seed Starting Workshop with Jodi and Tricia. To enter, simply post a comment in the comment section. In your comment let us know a workshop topic you’d like to see or a local grower or maker you’d like to see offer a nature-based workshop. The deadline for entries is March 13th, 2019.

UPDATE: Thank you to all of you that entered our first gift-away! The gift-away is now closed. Congratulations to our winner: Chelsey Goller

Have you heard we have a newsletter now? Stay connected to the Common Digs Community and you’ll receive advance notice about upcoming events, workshops, new programming and some behind the scenes news.

AuthorLisa Menzies
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