A new crowdfunder is helping transform local schools into community hubs that reverse biodiversity loss, climate change, and food insecurity.

Back in 2020, a passionate conversation between two local headteachers and Lancaster-based permaculture designer Jennifer Lauruol sparked a radical idea: what if school playgrounds could be transformed from barren spaces of tarmac and mown grass into productive gardens for food growing, wildlife, and outdoor learning?

Three years later we have Where the Wildings Are!, the project that resulted from this interaction which has delivered over 80 outdoor learning sessions involving over 2,400 children, planted 1,400 trees, and developed nature-based redesigns for 12 school playgrounds across the district. The project has not been without its challenges including the tragic loss of Jennifer this September, yet already we are starting to see the difference that this kind of work can make on the ground.

Some of my favourite transformations so far have been the woven bird feeding station and play stumpery in the Key Stage 1 playground at Ryelands Primary School. And that’s just the landscape themselves. Seeing the children’s eyes light up as they tell you about the food that they’d like to grow and the birds, butterflies, and monkeys (some of the requests we get are a little ambitious!) that they’d like to share their playgrounds with is inspiring in itself. As is watching them learn to observe minibeasts for the first time or taste the potatoes that they’ve grown themselves.

To date, we’ve been lucky to have been supported by generous organisations like the Areti Charitable Trust, Harmony with Nature, and Pots of Possibility, as well as financial contributions from the schools themselves. However, with new schools applying to work with us, including some who cannot afford the membership fee, we need to find other forms of support for our work.

The Crowdfunder will enable us to establish a network of food growing and nature-based holiday and after school clubs in the participating schools – this will allow local families to continue to benefit from the gardens beyond the constraints of the school day, as well as developing a community around each school that can help to take care of the new gardens. Some of the funds will also be used to support schools with the costs of implementing their designs.

We are lucky enough to have been accepted onto the Save Our Wild Isles programme, which provides 2:1 match funding for our first £15k, then 1:1 match funding after this – so any money donated goes even further. If you could help us by donating or spreading the word, we’d be massively grateful.

To support us, please visit https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/p/where-the-wildings-are-3

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