The Northern Irish public has made its choice – an inspiring project from two neighbouring housing estates in Coleraine will receive the £120,000 Grow Wild funding available for a creative wild flower project.
’The Cornfield Project’ has won the public vote – which took place last month – to become Northern Ireland’s flagship site for Grow Wild, the UK-wide wild flower initiative.
The project, a joint enterprise between Ballysally and Millburn in Coleraine, will use the £120,000 to transform and develop an underused area between the two estates, strengthening community links and transforming the space into an engaging, exciting space that will benefit local residents by bringing people together with wild flowers.
The Cornfield Project also aims to tackle issues of low employment and health by creating activities which will increase people`s confidence, enable them to develop new skills and bring opportunities for fun and education.
The local communities will be directly involved in wild flower sowing and growing, will create beautiful sensory gardens in which to wander, grow their own veg, provide an outdoor classroom space for schools, give their young people somewhere to go and something to do, and so much more. This is a unique opportunity for Milburn and Ballysally communities to show that working together will benefit the local people and the whole region.
Brendan Patterson, project leader at The Cornfield Project said “We are absolutely thrilled to have won the public vote to become Grow Wild’s flagship site for Northern Ireland. We have received an incredible amount of support for The Cornfield Project for which we’re very grateful. We can’t wait to get started on the project and bring the estates of Millburn and Ballysally together to improve their surroundings, bring new skills and development to the area.”
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Grow Wild inspires communities, friends, neighbours and individuals across the UK to come together to transform local spaces, by sowing, growing and enjoying native wild flowers.
The Cornfield Project, developed by Aspire Community Partnership, is a collaborative consortium of local grass-roots community groups including the lead partners of Focus on Family, Millburn Community Association and The Woodland Trust, who own the site.
In addition to the £120,000 initial funding, the flagship site will also receive £15,000 in 2016 for continued activities with local people, especially focusing on those aged 12 to 25. The site will become the national example demonstrating how people and partner organisations can turn spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wildlife havens. The voting campaign saw a huge 15,000 people cast their vote for their favourite shortlisted site – almost one vote for every hundred people in NI – with Cornfield receiving around two thirds of the total.
The three projects in the public vote were: City of Wildflowers in Belfast, led by Belfast City Council; The Cornfield Project in Coleraine, led by Focus on Family; and Flowers of Foyle in Derry/Londonderry, led by Creggan Country Park. Each project team pulled together their local, regional and national supporters to vote for their site online and by telephone. The two runner-up sites will receive a £4,000 Grow Wild kick-start award to run a dynamic local project to bring wild flowers to their areas. They are both fantastic projects which Grow Wild will continue to support in developing their ideas and bringing in alternative funding.
The Cornfield Project will run alongside Furnace to Flowers in Ebbw Vale, the flagship winner in Wales. Both projects follow the Grow Wild England and Scotland flagship sites, Tale of Two Cities in Manchester and Liverpool, and Water Works in Barrhead. Each site is designed to inspire Grow Wild participants, involve young people and leave a lasting footprint of the programme in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Stephanie Baine, Grow Wild Northern Ireland Partnership Manager said: “This is a huge achievement for the team behind The Cornfield Project and the community in Coleraine, and shows what can happen when a community is inspired to transform and make the most of its spaces using wild flowers.
“Each of our Grow Wild Flagship project applications in Northern Ireland demonstrated great passion for their communities, but The Cornfield Project has captured the hearts and minds of the public to win this national vote and secure the Grow Wild funding.”
Frank Hewitt, Northern Ireland Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said: “Grow Wild is all about bringing people together to improve their environment and benefit their communities, and The Cornfield Project is a perfect example of how this can be achieved. At the Big Lottery Fund we want to support people and communities to improve the places where they live. The Cornfield Project has already begun delivering this ambition through the public vote and it promises to create a fantastic project that will bring a splash of colour to this community space.”
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Michelle Knight McQuillan stated, “this is a fantastic achievement for our community. It is a flagship project which shows how communities can pull together resources to achieve what they set out to do.
“Council has been supporting the project with promotion, communication and engagement and working in partnership to create awareness with the business sector and our residents. It is important that all communities benefit from this project and that public are aware that this is a great achievement, in winning the competition but particularly to what it will bring to the area.
“The funding will be greatly welcomed and I look forward to the next stage as the money is now invested into the design which the representatives of the Cornfield Project have developed to win this amazing opportunity for their borough. Congratulations to those in the Cornfield Project, and thank you to the Big Lottery Fund, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and of course, Grow Wild. In particular, a huge thank you to everyone who supported and voted for the project, many people will soon benefit from you taking the time to vote for the Cornfield Project in Coleraine.”