ACCORDING to research released recently, positive lasting changes in the community have been made by people from different backgrounds and walks of life, brought together by the UK’s biggest ever wildflower campaign, Grow Wild.
Grow Wild’s achievements include a number of locally funded projects in Ceredigion, and projects such as these have seen the campaign land a place in the finals of this year’s National Lottery Awards, the vote for which ended on Wednesday (Jul 20).
Forest Research (the Forestry Commission’s research agency) conducted independent research online and in focus groups which shows the massive impact the project has made across the nation. Community co-operation has been boosted by the programme and scores of people have been inspired to take positive action for nature in their area. Three million people to date have been involved with Grow Wild, from inner cities to the Scottish Highlands, sowing enough seeds to cover 3.7 million square metres (enough to create a metre-wide path of wildflowers from Land’s End to John O’ Groats – almost four times). That even includes those who have sown flower seeds throughout Wales.
Semi-structured interviews and focus groups conducted by Forest Research at Grow Wild community projects and flagship sites revealed the opinions of 135 people. Many interviewees claimed they had learned from one another and felt this coming-together was essential for improving the community.
48% of community projects funded by the wildflower campaign have been centred in the 30% most deprived areas of the UK since 2014. According to post code analysis using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation, 18% of funded projects were in the 10% most deprived areas this year alone.
Forest Research also found that Grow Wild’s seed kits are having an incredibly significant impact at the most deprived areas, and people from these areas are benefiting the most from the programme. Those who received seed kits in deprived areas were far more likely to claim they learned about their communities and about wildflowers.
Blooming Wild Cardigan, a project run by 4CG (the Society to Sustain and Support the Rural Countryside) and funded by Grow Wild, has continued to inspire young people to seek creative ways to positively impact the environment. An example of this can be found at Pendre Art Cafe, where the group has been knitting bees to educate the public about the importance of wildflowers and pollinating insects.
Gwenda Mark, Project Leader, said: “Our knitted bees are all across town, with labels saying ‘please take me to the bee hospital at Pendre Art Cafe’, where people are given a packet of seeds and instructions on taking care of wildflowers. We have seen the flowers springing up everywhere, including in Wellington boots. The group are now busy as bees knitting wildflowers for a big art installation. Every week different people turn up and it’s been a great way for the community to come together through craft, nature and growing activities.”
Almost 20% (over a quarter of a million) of Grow Wild’s seed kits have gone to groups aged 12-25, proving that young people are indeed getting involved with the project in their communities. Many projects have been funded to specifically target this age group.
After receiving a free packet of seeds from Grow Wild, 60,000 people took part in the Forest Research’s online survey. 79% said they felt a greater sense of responsibility for native wildlife, 73% said they felt connected to something bigger, and 61% said they spent time sowing seeds with their families.
Because Grow Wild sent them free kits, 87% felt their group learned about wildflowers and 22% continued to do something for their community, like setting up a project.
Programme Manager of Grow Wild, Philip Turvil, said: “We’re delighted to see that our wild flower campaign is making a real, quantifiable difference to communities in the UK. More people are enjoying nature and appreciating the value of improving the wildlife where they live.
“We’re particularly excited by our nomination for a National Lottery Award – thanks to Lottery money, so far three million people have taken part in our campaign, through receiving our native wild flower seeds, community funding and by participating online. Achieving national recognition would be an incredible honour and a reward for everyone who’s taken part, including the many enthusiastic volunteers across Wales, and will help to secure the future of UK native wild flowers.”