December 2021-January 2022 | News

Planting a billion seeds together

Planting a billion seeds together

On the eve of COP26, Rotarians joined community groups for an environmental challenge to brighten up our parks and public spaces.

As the country came to grips with the effects of lockdown over the past 18 months, the precious time we got to go outside led to a greater nationwide appreciation of our green spaces.

With COP26 around the corner, the Together Coalition, which joins some of the UK’s best known organisations, such as Rotary, without community groups, thought there could not be a better time to show some love to those parks and front gardens which we have relied on so much during lockdown.

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And that’s where the idea for the Billion Seed Challenge arose.

The aim of the challenge was to bring together local communities between September 23rd and October 30th to brighten up their local areas through planting a billion seeds across the whole country.

With a cause as good as this, Rotary clubs across the country were more than happy to get involved.

This isn’t necessarily about COP26. This is about doing the right thing as a person for wildlife and everything that’s around you.”

From every end of the country, people were putting on their gardening gloves and sowing seeds. This included Rotary ambassador and Paralympian, Steve Brown who made his way out to plant wildflower seeds with his local Rotary club – Minster On Sea Rotary, in Kent.

Steve gave an inspiring speech, saying: “This isn’t necessarily about COP26. This is about doing the right thing as a person for wildlife and everything that’s around you.”

The challenge fell perfectly in line with what was already one of Rotary’s top priorities in protecting the environment, as perfectly shown by Church & Oswaldtwistle Rotary in Lancashire.

The club had an ongoing project with the aim of regenerating a local woodland at Tinker Brook in Oswaldtwistle. So taking part in the Billion Seed Challenge made perfect sense.

After teaming up with the local police cadets to clear 80 square metres of existing wild plants, the club and the cadets returned to clear the last of the roots and scatter 250 grams of yellow rattle seed.

The police cadets were presented with certificates of recognition for their hard work and the rattle is expected to have developed by this time next year.

The Southampton Rotary in Hampshire used the Billion Seed Challenge as an opportunity to brighten up one of the community’s most important spaces – Southampton Old Cemetery.

Church & Oswaldtwistle Rotary teamed up with the local police cadets to take part in the challenge.

The club had been helping maintain the cemetery since May and realised that it was the perfect place to sow the wildflower seeds.

Members of the club went down, removed the turf of a plot of land between fallen headstones and sowed the seeds.

One of the biggest supporters of the Billion Seed Challenge was Homebase who offered 50% off seeds and equipment for anyone taking part in the challenge.

This was particularly useful for clubs like Peterborough Ortons Rotary who, on an already busy day of announcing the Young Environmentalist Award winner and World Polio Day planting, were able to gather the seeds and plant pots needed for the children of Ravensthorpe Primary School to take part in the challenge.

Everyone who took part in the Billion Seed Challenge deserves equal recognition for helping make a statement about how much we value our green spaces and what we are willing to do to protect our environment.

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