Previous projects

Grow Wild has been delighted to fund some incredible projects since our launch.

With youth grants and community grants on offer, we have supported young people and groups in London and across the UK to develop a huge range of projects that explore the power of plants and fungi.

Read on to find out about and be inspired by some of the impressive projects created by our previous grant recipients. 

 

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Two women working in a garden

 

2021: London Grows Wild Together  

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Glass case with green top covered in mushrooms

 

Due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, grants in 2020 were postponed until 2021, when we were pleased to be able to fund 18 young emerging artists and five community initiatives across London.

In September 2021, we teamed up with our partner 70 St. Mary Axe to showcase their projects in an exhibition titled London Grows Wild Together. The breadth and diversity of work created was astounding, transforming neglected spaces, bringing communities together, and exploring the untold stories of UK native plants and fungi.

Denmark Hill Community Garden
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Two women working on a garden bed

 

A grassroots, resident-led community garden for all, aiming to connect residents of the Denmark Hill Estate in South London through growing and creative workshops.

Residents came together during lockdown and started making use of planting beds within their estate, creating a place for people to meet safely outdoors and grow.

With their grant the group now has plans to expand the garden, adding new beds and a greenhouse.

@denmarkhillgarden

Buxton School
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A woman looking at a tray of plants she is holding and smiling

 

Buxton School is an all-through school in Leytonstone, London educating pupils aged 3 to16.

The school acquired an old allotment site from the council to develop into a much-needed green space for pupils to learn about the environment, conservation, gardening, science and to experience the natural world.

The school is keen to establish the space as an outdoor classroom, while retaining wild areas and working with the pupils to enhance its biodiversity.

Grace Penton: Growing Ginormous
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Woven trouser sculpture with pieces of paper stuck to it

 

Supported by Create London

Exploring the theme of personal growth, and the growth of the plants and fungi around us, Grace has explored how they allow us to flourish. She created the ‘tree-trousers’, representing the unrealistic growth imagined as a child. The trousers become a symbol for both the personal growth and literal growth we experience as humans.

Collaborating with people from different ages, backgrounds and opinions, and with nature itself, she worked with other contributors, who created drawings of plants, trees and fungi; the results of this collaboration adorn the trousers, creating a community upon them.

Due to the circumstances over the past year and the inability to physically interact, Grace created an online space where people submitted pictures of their creations, and these were then translated onto the trousers. The trousers are made from recycled paper, cardboard and willow; trees from trees.

‘I found that working with nature, in this slower way, pushed me to be more patient as each element of the Tree-Trousers was a new, slow process.’

@artyfacegrace

Amanpreet Kalsi: In Bloom
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Framed wooden design in front of a large window

 

Supported by the University of Warwick

In Bloom represents the seasonal growth of UK native plants. Composed from laser-cut birch wood, the work intertwines and overlaps ten different wildflower species, incorporating pollinators like bees, birds and butterflies.

The journey begins at the core of the structure, with the seed. Seeds can sit dormant for years before the right conditions enable them to burst into life and growth can begin.

Encircling the core, ivy, ferns and harebells bloom and bring beauty to dreary autumn and winter days.

The blooming of wildflowers, which break away from this circle, represents the beauty of explosive blossoming that occurs in spring and summer.

In Bloom encapsulates the journey of growth, from autumn to summer, when everything truly comes to life.

Bijoy Das: Nature's Internet
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Glass case with green top covered in mushrooms

 

Supported by Queen Mary University of London

Nature’s Internet explores the scientific research that is expanding our knowledge of the wildly complex kingdom of fungi.

What you see (or eat!) of a mushroom is the fruit or the flower. The organism exists under the ground, as a network of fine threads called mycelium. These ‘threads’ are the creators of the fastest and most complex biochemical signalling network on the planet.

In his project, Bijoy highlights and celebrates this remarkable process. Nature’s Internet aims to juxtapose the seemingly quiet, simple life of the mushroom with the highly complicated biochemical signalling that is going on under the soil.

A ‘mycelial server room’ is his representation of these processes, an attempt to describe their complexity in the way we think of these concepts: glowing lights, machined edges and technical components. Bijoy uses fluorescent acrylic to convey this – its smooth, adaptive glow is a stark contrast to the matte grey-beige flesh of the fungi itself.

@Bijoy.jpg

2019  

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Amber using her large format camera
Amber Brown: Earthworks
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Someone standing in front of a framed black and white photograph

 

 

'My project, Earthworks, curated a marriage of photography and printmaking, depicting allotments in Amble and Morpeth, and the community at the heart of them.

'I approached Grow Wild after hearing about their Youth Project funding through the University [Edinburgh College of Art]. My aim was to develop the work over a six-month period to put on my first solo exhibition, which would also be my first time exhibiting in my hometown – a nerve-wracking prospect!

'Creating this work over several seasons allowed me to experience the allotment through its cyclic stages of growth. Naturally, come spring, more and more plot-holders spent time at their green havens. Many of them were so kind to spare an hour or so to show me around their plot, tell stories of what their hobby has brought them and let me take their portrait in the space.

'During my time with Grow Wild, I’m honestly absolutely over the moon to say that my project (which is a work in progress) was shortlisted in the top ten selected works at Belgrade Photo Month 2019 – and published in the coinciding Grain magazine – shortlisted for the Astaire Art Prize 2019 and also won the George Jackson Hutchinson Memorial Prize 2019!'

Idle Women
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Three people sitting at a table drawing

 

 

Idle Women, started by Rachel and her partner Sis in 2015, was originally based in a touring narrowboat which travelled Lancashire's canals, inviting women to come on board and take part in artist-led creative workshops.

Eventually, with the help of crowdfunding, they purchased a garden along the canal and took up permanent residence there, aiming to turn it into a 'medicinal physic garden dedicated to the health and wellbeing of women'. 

In 2019, with Grow Wild community project funding, they embarked on a project called 'From Mud to Medicine', running workshops and events over the course of several months and observing the changes to the landscape and themselves.

They used what they learned during the project to help them in the next phases of the project – the garden is now in the process of being landscaped. When completed, the Physic Garden will provide women with a garden to visit and a study base for medicinal plants and women’s health.

Idle Women website

Transplanted
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A small groups of people playing instruments outside on some grass

 

 

Transplanted began in 2014, inspired by the works of John Oswald. He was a baroque composer who wrote ‘Airs for the Seasons’; a remarkable compendium of 96 duos for violin and cello, each depicting a different plant or flower. 

Sonia Cromarty (cello) and Alice Rickards (violin) commissioned eight new works by Scottish composers, asking each to write a piece about a plant, lichen or fungi native to Scotland. 

The pair used their Grow Wild community project funding to take Transplanted to four secondary schools in urban areas of Scotland, connecting each participating school to a local green space in their community. The school pupils were given a tour, learning about the things that grow in the space and the conservation work being carried out. Each day ended with a short performance of the new works with pieces taking inspiration from the history, uses, lifecycles, colours and smells of plants, wildflowers and fungi.

'The tour of a local green space allowed for hands-on learning and we hope has created a connection between participants and the green space in their community which can be visited all year round.' Keen to connect more deeply with nature? Read about how to use your senses to appreciate wild plants. 

2018  

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Using natural dyes on paper
Natural plant dye garden, Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Wildflower illustration on fabric

 

 

With youth project funding from Grow Wild, students at Cardiff Metropolitan University developed a natural dye garden to explore ideas around fabric dyeing, sustainable dyes and waste dyeing (using materials like onion skins and avocado pits).

Throughout the project, the central focus was on giving students education about the ancient craft technique of natural plant dyeing. Dr Keireine Canavan, Head of Textiles at the university, explained: 'The students who were involved now consider themselves more aware of the power of nature and the potential of using natural dye sources to achieve a beautiful result.

'A really important part of the project was the idea of sharing plant information and dye recipes, both with the rest of the student body and with interested people outside of Cardiff Met. To achieve this goal, we decided to gather facts and insight through augmented reality software, to allow people to have an interactive experience with a real-world dye garden without having to be physically on site, which resulted in a permanent campus dye garden.

'The natural plant dye garden, as well as its augmented reality elements, is here to stay as a valuable resource. I’m also delighted to confirm that natural dyeing is now embedded into the degree curriculum here at Cardiff Met.'

Greening Church Street
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Someone holding a can and painting it

 

 

Based in Stoke-on-Trent, Greening Church Street used their community project grant to brighten up a grey concrete space and bring nature into the town. 

The team explained that their area of Stoke is built around terraced housing and shops with very little outdoor space. Many buildings open straight onto the street, so the green space needed to be small and low-cost to attract interest – their biggest installation was a bike garden measuring 2x1 metres.

With additional support in the form of free soil from a local business, they used recycled materials to create colourful art installations and upcycled planters which they filled with UK native wildflowers. Workshops such as making plant pots from tin cans involved the local community, and bike and bath gardens created visual interest.

The team identified social media as a big boost for them – the project reached new audiences who might not have otherwise been involved. There is power in the imagery of projects happening, so capture photos and stories where you can!

2015

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An abandoned bath tub gets a new lease of life, acting as a growing tub for wildflowers, in Hoxton
Cody Wilds, East London
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Blackboard with chalk writing and drawings of animals on it

 

 

Grow Wild funding helped the Gasworks Dock Partnership transform Cody Dock on the River Lea in East London into Cody Wilds, a kilometre-long public riverside path that acts as a vital green corridor for wildlife.

The team saved and replanted ancient reed beds, helping other plants to flourish and creating crucial habitats for birds, pollinators and other riverside creatures. 

Over 6,000 people have volunteered at Cody Dock over the years and more than 50,000 visitors have stopped by, among them myriad groups of inner-city schoolchildren who take part in explorations of scientific discovery along the riverbank. The project allows them an all too rare opportunity to connect with nature. 

Cody Dock website

Would you like to connect more with the natural world? Nature journaling could be for you. 

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