Grow Wild, the UK’s biggest ever wild flower campaign, has been bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life to create positive, lasting change in their community, according to research out this week.
Grow Wild’s achievements, including a number of locally funded projects in Torfaen, have helped earn them a place as a finalist in this year’s National Lottery Awards, where the public will vote for their favourite lottery-funded project.
Independent research conducted online and in focus groups by Forest Research (the research agency of the Forestry Commission) shows quite clearly the incredible impact that the programme has made all over the UK. Grow Wild has boosted community co-operation and inspired people to do something positive for nature where they live. To date, 3 million people have been involved from inner cities to the farthest reaches of the Scottish Highlands, sowing enough Grow Wild seeds to cover 3.7 million square metres. That’s enough to create a metre-wide path of wild flowers all the way from Land’s End to John o’ Groats… almost four times. And that includes those that have sown wild flower seeds all across Wales.
Forest Research conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 135 people at Grow Wild community projects and flagship sites. The data released today records people’s pride at working together on a common project with many saying that they had learned from one another, and felt that this cohesion was vital to improving their community.
Since 2014, 48% of community projects funded by Grow Wild have been from the 30% most deprived areas of the UK. In 2016 alone, 18% of funded projects were in the 10% most deprived areas (according to post code analysis using the Indices of Multiple Deprivation).
Forest Research found that people in these most deprived areas got the most out of the programme, while Grow Wild’s seed kits are also having an especially significant impact there too. People who received a seed kit in more deprived areas were significantly more likely to say they learned about wild flowers and about their communities.
Meadow Champions is a Grow Wild funded project in Cwmbran run by Bron Afon Community Housing. Their mission is to transform bland urban landscapes into wild flower havens full of colour and wildlife with the help of residents.
Project leader, Steve Caddy, said, “we’ve held a number of events for residents across Torfaen to sow seeds. We’re impressed by how many people want to get involved to improve the area where they live and also to get to know their neighbours. They are already enjoying seeing plenty of colour brightening up the area.”
Many young people have got involved in sowing and growing wild flowers too, with almost 20% (over a quarter of a million) of Grow Wild’s free seed kits going to groups aged 12 to 25, and many funded projects specifically targeting this age group.
66,000 people took part in the Forest Research’s online survey after receiving a free packet of seeds from Grow Wild; 73% said they felt connected to something bigger, 61% spent time with their families, sowing seeds together and 79% felt a greater sense of responsibility for native wildlife.
As a result of receiving the Grow Wild seed kits, 87% of people felt their group learned about wild flowers and 22% went on to do something more for their community, like setting up a project or an event.
Philip Turvil, Programme Manager of Grow Wild, 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 3 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 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.”