A Vegetarian Nursery in Hebden Bridge
These days, when so many institutions are paring down their food bill as part of cutting costs to a minimum, it is heartening to learn that there are places where fabulous tasting, nutritious food and quality ingredients remain central to the care that they provide.
Long time Suma Customer, Crossley Mill Nursery, sits in a beautiful canal-side location in the heart of Hebden Bridge. It is housed in an old mill that was specially converted in 1998 on the initiative of a group of parents who were keen to secure better childcare for under 5’s in the Upper Calder Valley. It cares for up to 46 children from 0-5 years.
One of the nursery’s unique features, aside from the fact that it is still run as a charity overseen by volunteer trustees, is that it has served only vegetarian food since it first opened in 1985 at their first premises.
Jessica Cracknell, the manager of Crossley Mill, says, “As a nursery we really aim to be a home-from-home for the children we look after. Parents tell us that the quality and variety of food we offer are among the main reasons they choose to bring their children to Crossley Mill.”
The kitchen hatch opens into the nursery, which is important not only for serving food – it means that children can see their meals being prepared, and appetites are sharpened by the delicious smells which drift in from the kitchen throughout the day.
Crossley Mill’s full-time cook is Helen Potts, who clearly relishes the challenge of making healthy food interesting for little ones to eat. Helen says, “I thoroughly enjoy working with organic ingredients, and Suma’s quality produce gives me enthusiasm whilst cooking, which in turn inspires me to create adventurous, wholesome meals for the children.”
“Meal times at Crossley Mill are hugely sociable too,” adds Jessica. The staff enjoy eating meals and snacks with the children and use this time to teach them all about being healthy, about different foods and festivals from around the world, and how our delicious meals are prepared. Our parents and carers keep asking for the recipes we use so they can make the same dishes at home for the family to enjoy.”
And it’s not only children who benefit from the skills of Crossley Mill’s cooks. Nursery staff give up their own time to ensure that the grown ups occasionally get to taste some of Helen’s lovely food. Jessica says, “We consider ourselves part of the community, so it’s always good to invite others in to share our fun as often as we can. We served pie and peas to around 90 people at our bonfire night party, and made mince pies and mulled wine for parents during our carol singing at Christmas.”
It can’t always be said that parents are jealous of the meals their children get to eat while at school or nursery, but Crossley Mill appears to have achieved this. As one parent says, “The food is truly brilliant… the varied vegetarian menu has given my children an eclectic palate that they wouldn’t have enjoyed at home!”