Naturally Useful Outdoor Classroom

by [email protected] in Forres, Moray, United Kingdom

Total raised £5,586

raised so far



Help us to fund the creation of an outdoor classroom. It will be used by; students, volunteers and our future health and wellbeing project.

by [email protected] in Forres, Moray, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 21st April 2023 we'd raised £5,306 with 37 supporters in 32 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

 New stretch target

The stretch target will be to cover the wages for the builder of the outdoor classroom and towards materials for wheelchair accessable paths. 

We are going to be as environmentally friendly with our paths as we can, using unwanted waste wool instead of plastic weed barrier.


Our project is part of the 2023 Creative Scotland Crowdmatch
competition. Creative Scotland will match individual pledges from the
crowd up to £10,000. So if you donate £20 to our cause, your donation
will be matched with a £20 pledge from Creative Scotland, effectively
doubling your donation!

Who are we?

At Naturally Useful, we make useful and beautiful products from willow, wool, plant dyes and wood. All our materials are either grown by us or locally sourced. 

We teach hand crafts, using traditional skills that transform these natural materials into products that last.

‘I believe that the good medicine of making is the birth right of us all. As my hands get older, I get great joy from passing these ways onto new hands.’  Karen Collins  


Making with natural materials can be profoundly transformative. Head ,hands and heart are brought together through the act of making. It's a grounding activity that can put us in the present and engender a sense of peace and tranquility.

We believe that the act of making should be accessible to all. Being engaged in tactile, purposeful, creative activities and connecting with nature is proven to benefit mental health and well being.

  • Thanks to everyone who supported our previous Crowdfunder project, we have successfully bought our willow field.


  • The next step in our journey is to offer basket making, gardening and traditional textile skills - like felting, natural dyes and eco printing- to all on the field through our health and wellbeing project.

“I can’t thank you enough. It’s been an amazing week and I’ve learnt loads. I can’t wait to introduce Mr Fox to everyone at home.” Said Rachel Kirk who spent a week learning sculptural skills in willow.


Why are we crowdfunding?. 

  • We need your help to make our dream of accessible, affordable crafts and gardening opportunities for all- a reality. Our local area has many people who are keen to come and learn from us. We are liaising and setting up the Health and Wellbeing project for local organisations like Leanchoil Trust, Wide Horizons,  and the Job Centre. 
  • We want to offer our project to those who are long term unemployed, veterans, those who have additional support needs and those who will come to us through green social prescriptions to support their health and wellbeing.
  • The plan is to make an outdoor classroom to house workshops for our local community when there's bad weather. The groups will be between 5 and 8 people at a time, who will spend half of their day gardening and half of it crafting.


  • Currently the existing workspace - the lovely pole barn which we rent (above photo) - is too small to be home for our new health and wellbeing project as well as meeting the existing needs for current students and makers. We regularly fill the barn with our various ongoing jobs; making coffins, felted shrouds and rugs, bespoke commissions, fulfilling on-line orders, teaching bespoke course students, and many other things besides.

The outdoor classroom will look a little bit like this:


How we’ll spend the money raised

The money you donate will help us to buy the locally sourced wood (Larch tree trunks and cladding), hard core for the floor, materials for a turf roof and sundries like screws and guttering to build an eco outdoor classroom. 

If we raise more than enough for the materials needed, then together we will fund the builder's wages and if there is even more, then we would spend it on the making of wheelchair accessable paths across our rough grassy ground.

The outdoor classroom will have open walls towards the south, woven willow walls in some places and one wall will be created by a shed on the side which will safely house the tools needed for the workshops. 

It will have upcycled tables and chairs for 6 to 8 people and a sink and cooking area especially for processing plant dyes from the field.

“Karen's second workshop week was keenly anticipated by locals and over 100 people attended.  Her skill at being able to adapt to all abilities meant everyone took something away regardless of talent or age.  Others have taken the challenge to further their skills by attending workshops with Naturally Useful”. Said Kate from Boat of Garten Wildlife Group.

Reward - a selection of 3 botanically printed cards.


Reward - willow bird art


Reward - willow field tour


Reward - natural dye garden tour


Reward - Bespoke half day course - here are some examples of what you could choose to learn in just half a day.


Rewards - here's what some of our students have achieved during bespoke courses.



Thank you everyone for your generous help. It's going to be so appreciated by everyone who will be able to come to us thanks to having new workshop space in the outdoor classroom for our health and wellbeing project.

A huge thank you goes to Creative Scotland. We are extremely lucky to have been chosen to recieve match funding for our project which is the cream, cherry and sprinkles on top of this lovely cake.


This project offered rewards

£5 or more

£5 Donation

A big, heart felt thank you from all of us and all the future students, volunteers and service users who will make good use of the outdoor classroom which you will be helping us to build.

£7 or more

Wooden needle for rag rug projects

This needle is perfect for making rag rugs from broad strips of rag. This traditional Amish rug making technique is easy to learn and produces beautiful results.

£9 or more

100g carded local wool fleece

Carded natural cream wool from Texel and Soay crossed sheep from Morayshire. Perfect for spinning or felting projects.

£12 or more

£12 botanically printed cards

We will send you a lucky dip of 3 beautiful unique cards, made by botanically printing leaves and flowers onto recycled card.

£20 or more

Chunky Morayshire wool yarn

200 grammes of locally sourced wool yarn from Soay and Texel crossed sheep. Ready for any knitting, crochet or pant dye projects. 100g would be enough to make a hat for example.

£30 or more

Willow bird wall art.

This willow bird will grace anyone's wall space or window. They look a little like flying Swifts or Swallows.

£40 or more

£40 learn about willow tour.

Come and learn all about willow. Karen will give you a 2 hour tour of the willow field, give you hints and tips on growing and all things willow. We will make arrangements via email for a mutually good day to come some time this year and learn about willow and join us for a cuppa and a biccie.

£40 or more

Plant dye garden tour

Join us for a bespoke 2 hour tour of the plant dyes garden to get hints and tips and learn all about plants which give us a bounty of colours. The best time of year is probably the summer months. We'll then provide you with hot drinks and snacks in the barn. We will be in touch to make arrangements via email.

£75 or more

Bespoke half day course voucher

Arrange to spend half a day with us this year, whenever you'd like, learning a new craft and making a product of your choice. Choose from the following: rag rugs, how to spin, a willow bird feeder, a willow platter, a plant support for peas or beans, needle felted art or coiled baskets and cordage. We will be in contact via email to discuss your preferences for dates and crafts.

£80 or more

Voucher for a Saturday course

This voucher will enable you to book onto any of our full day Saturday courses of your choice mentioned on our website for this year. Simply email us to arrange and book directly via the email. We look forward to seeing you soon.

£80 or more


Come and choose whatever item you wish from the variety on offer in our shop. It could be a basket for example, something felted, an inkle loom, some art or any combination of products.

£150 or more

Bespoke course day

Come to us on a day to suit your needs and we will furnish you with new skills to be able to make a beautiful, useful product for your home or garden from Willow or textiles.To see what could be taught, please see our website for ideas. We will make arrangements via email to find a day especially for you and to discuss which projects are achievable in a day. If you need accommodation, please let us know as we might be able to help.

£240 or more

£240 Bespoke course for 2 days

Come to learn anything basket making from Karen or anything textiles from Amy. See our website for inspirational ideas- shape of basket, different techniques and products possible. We will make arrangements via email to find a mutually beneficial time to come at some point this year. Beginners are welcome and we will let you know what can be realistically achieved in 2 days. If you need of accommodation, please let us know and we can help.

£300 or more

Bespoke course for 3 days

Come to us for three days of bespoke willow or textiles tuition, learning any of the techniques and crafts you see on our website. We look forward to making arrangements with you via email to find a good date this year to suit you and to discuss what you'd like to learn. if you need accommodation, let us know as we could help.

£360 or more

Bespoke course for 4 days

During 4 days with us, you will be able to achieve 3 different basket shapes or 3 textile projects- like a tufted rug, naturally dyed batik art for example. See our website for ideas and inspiration. We will be in touch via email to make arrangements for a good time to come this year and to discuss your requirements. Please let us know if you need accommodation and we will be able to help.

£420 or more

Bespoke 5 day course

During your bespoke course with us at some point this year, you could make 3 or 4 baskets, depending on the size, style and your previous experience. Don't worry - you can be a complete beginner in any of the textiles or willow crafts and we will guide you along to help you achieve your goals. We will be in touch via email to discuss your ideas, dates and to give you an idea of which projects are realistically achievable during 5 days.

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