Two communities within the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough have been successfully shortlisted to one of the three Northern Ireland Flagship finalists of the Grow Wild Flagship Programme.
The communities of Millburn and Ballysally submitted a joint project, ‘The Cornfield Project’, which aims to transform and develop the use of the Cornfield site into a nature area to the benefit of both communities.
The finalist to be selected as Grow Wild’s flagship project in Northern Ireland will be decided by a public vote which will take place from 6th October until 1stNovember 2015 – with the winner awarded with £135,000 to implement their site plan.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Grow Wild is a national wild flower campaign in its third year of wild flower campaigning, aiming to bring people together to transform a communal space by sowing and growing native plants.
The Cornfield Project, developed by Aspire Community Partnership, a collaborative consortium of local grass-roots community groups including; Focus on Family as the lead partner, Millburn Community Association, Building Ballysally Together, Oasis Causeway and Coleraine Education Community Project with other groups from the wider Causeway Coast and Glens area who’s aims are to improve the lives of residents within local communities.
The project is supported by a range of key partners including; The Woodland Trust, who own the site; The Conservation Volunteers; Northern Health and Social Services Trust and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan commenting on the projects shortlisting said, “I’d like to congratulate those involved, particularly ‘Focus on Family’ and ‘Millburn Community Association’. Their work in progressing the Cornfield Project from an initial vision to its present stage as one of the finalists in the ‘Grow Wild Programme is a fantastic achievement.
“I’d ask everyone throughout the Borough and beyond to get involved in backing the Cornfield Project by making their vote, once the voting system opens on 6th October.”
Brendan Patterson Project Manager at Focus on Family added, “‘The Cornfield Project has been developed as a tool to engage local communities in a completely new way by linking people together through nature.
“The vision for the project is to transform the Cornfield SITE that lies between the Millburn and Ballysally estates with native wild flowers and, in doing so, bridge two divergent communities. With features including colourful wild flower planting, sensory spaces, allotments, outdoor classrooms and walkways, it’ll become a multi-functional space for Coleraine.
Billy Ellis, Community Development Worker at Millburn Community Association commented, “The communities of Millburn and Ballysally are recognised areas of deprivation with low levels of educational attainment, high unemployment, health issues and the perceived lack of hope and aspiration amongst people living in the areas. Those involved in the Cornfield Project believe the development of the site could be a foundation for good practice in tackling such issues, increasing people`s confidence, social inclusion, skills and educational potential.
“The benefits of the project could have a significant impact on those living within the areas and provide opportunities for similar community areas to build on its framework. The development of the site has the potential to generate new and fun activities, training opportunities and projects to generate further income. It is expected that the project will further enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of the community as a whole with increased engagement and an understanding and appreciation of nature with the provision of a beautiful place full of activity for everyone to enjoy.”
The area of land includes the Woodland Trust’s Cornfield Wood. Patrick Cregg, director of the Woodland Trust, said: “We really hope that people will give this innovative proposal the full backing it deserves. This project has the potential to totally transform the local landscape. It offers a wonderful opportunity for communities and individuals to work together. And the end result will be an attractive, flourishing and lasting natural resource, which can be freely enjoyed by everyone.”
Already numerous community initiatives have made a difference across Northern Ireland – with the winning flagship project set to add another level to the benefits brought by Grow Wild.
For more information about the flagship projects or the wider Grow Wild campaign, please visit www.growwilduk.com
Details on how, when and where to vote for the Cornfield Project will be available at www.facebook.com/thecornfieldproject or for further information telephone Brendan Patterson, Project Manager at Focus on Family on 028 7032 9550.