Research assesses the impact of award winning project ‘Grow Wild’

Research assesses the impact of award winning project ‘Grow Wild’Earlier in the year we reported on Grow Wild, the UK’s biggest ever wild flower campaign.  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.  We explained how our research to evaluate the impact of the project shows it has been bringing people together from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life to create positive, lasting change in their community.  

Such is the success of the project, it has won the 2016 National Lottery Award for Best Environmental Project after receiving an incredible 23,493 public votes. The prestigious award trophy was presented by TV presenter Anita Rani to Grow Wild staff from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew earlier this month. Anita took time to celebrate Grow Wild’s achievement at one of its flagship sites in the UK. She met with staff and volunteers at Barrhead Water Works, near Glasgow in Scotland where they gathered from across the UK for a celebratory picnic and to sow seeds.

Forest Research is working with the Grow Wild team to assess the impact of the project on the people participating in it.  This involves assessing what kind of activities Grow Wild has stimulated, the type of people that took part, what if any impacts this has had on people’s wellbeing and whether it lead to any lasting changes in the activities people do as individuals or together with others in their communities.

So far our research shows the impact that the Grow Wild has made all over the UK, boosting community co-operation and inspiring people to do something positive for nature where they live.  Part of our work involved conducted semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 135 people at Grow Wild community projects and flagship sites. The findings reveal 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.

We also conducted an online survey with recipients of free packets of seeds from Grow Wild.  66,000 people took part in the survey; 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.

Grow Wild has been supported with a £10.5 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund. 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.

You can find out more about Forest Research’s evaluation of Grow Wild here.

Watch out for Grow Wild on The National Lottery Stars, broadcast on BBC One on 12th September.