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Churches transform unloved spaces with wild-seeds from Royal Botanic Gardens

23 February 2018


Volunteers plant seeds as part of the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Grow Wild scheme

Volunteers plant seeds as part of the Royal Botanic Gardens’ Grow Wild scheme

IN 2015, the news that bluebells, buttercups, and cowslip had disappeared from The Oxford Junior Dictionary provoked dismay, but now work is under way to spread wild-flowers in communities, and churches are among those participating.

To date, 21 churches have applied for seeds from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, whose scheme “Grow Wild” is encouraging people to “transform a shared urban or unloved space” with wildflowers. The Big Lottery Fund has provided millions towards the initiative, which was launched in 2012; it has now secured funding for another two years.

Among the churches involved is St Catherine’s, Stoke Aldermoor, on an estate in Coventry. Last week, a member of the congregation, Lin Race, described how the wild-flowers had helped to pollinate the church’s vegetable garden, and “brighten up” the environs of the church, which is currently based in a Portakabin.

“We do a lot of outreach work in the community,” she said. “We run a foodbank, and one of our helpers realised that some people did not know how to cook or what to do with fresh vegetables; so we started to have a cooking club and use the vegetables that we grow in the garden.”

There are plans to use the seeds to make St John the Baptist’s, Markyate, in Hertfordshire, “welcoming to people and wildlife”, a member of the congregation, Rosemary Basciano, said this month. “The church is now open during the day, and many people have made use of this to pop in for peace and prayer.”

The Big Lottery Fund’s UK knowledge and portfolio director, Joe Ferns, said that Grow Wild had “brought local people together through their love of nature, but it has also inspired communities to take action and transform unused spaces, while giving them the confidence to socialise and gain new skills”.

To apply for a seed kit, visit growwilduk.com/apply.

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