Natural Playground Highlight
Haw Creek Commons installed a new feature this winter: a Natural Playground. It’s located adjacent to the existing playground behind Bethesda United Methodist Church and trails through the Haw Creek Commons woods.
The project was inspired by eight-year-old Laine Lingle, whose grant proposal made it into the final round of the Awesome Asheville awards. Jarad Barkeim of Coulee Region Ecospaces worked with Laine to design the playground, install many of the features, and managed two volunteer workdays so the community could take part in the creation of the space, including Lane and his family. Coulee Region Ecoscapes donated significantly to make this project possible.
The remaining expense was donated by Missional Wisdom Foundation who is Haw Creek Commons parent organization.
The playground includes a trail system, outdoor kids’ chapel and education space, three tiered platform, a slide embedded in the hill on the trail, a log bordered sandbox, a log balance beam system, four tunnels to grow hops for a local brewery, and two nature tables to inspire children to use nature to make temporary creations.
In addition to the more obvious motivation of inspiring children to explore the natural world, it was important to curate the woods for safety and environmental management. Unsafe trees and thorns were removed and repurposed as playground features if appropriate. Bordered trails will help direct traffic through the woods and reduce erosion.
Children have been playing in the natural playground daily and seem to love their new space. Each day during project implementation they would race over from Haw Creek Elementary to see the next new feature, then run to bring their friends over to watch and ask questions. Kids started to offer suggestions for other projects that could happen in the space. Jarad smiled as he relayed how fun it was to hear their excitement and see them play on something he had just built.
Feel free to bring your family to play!