Long-time readers may recall our coverage in previous years of the efforts of the participants of the Britain in Bloom project, how their labours have affected change in the ecological consciousness of the British public, and also the measure of their achievements in a physical sense.
This reflection continues in 2013 with another incredibly successful year for the project and a personal thank you on behalf of RHS members to those members of the public who contributed. With the statistics of each community, and of the project as a whole now compiled, it is possible to weigh in just how much change has been effected. RHS member Stephanie Eynon quickly dispensed with any misconception about the scale and variety of Britain in Bloom saying:
“People’s perception of RHS Britain in Bloom is that it’s all about pretty hanging baskets brightening up rural villages, but these new survey results illustrate how the campaign is so much more than that…”
The survey demonstrates that collectively, the volunteers involved in Britain in Bloom are responsible for the care and preservation of over 2 million acres across the country and ten times that number in plants – all told they’ve contributed over 1 million hours of labour and that’s just in this year alone!
Aside from the short-term environmental improvement that activity like this guarantees, by uniting communities, particularly in a voluntary capacity, it instils within the social consciousness a surviving awareness and responsibility that will ripple over the generations to come. On top of this, as with any gardening activity, it instils civic and personal pride in those who overcome the inherent challenges attached to a horticultural project and finally getting to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
A group of such volunteers could be aptly personified by the Remedi youth volunteers in Nottingham. Their contributions have focused on the revival of a community lot known as the Arkwright Meadows Community Garden. This site had been formerly abused as a fly tipping space but thanks to the group of 10-17 year olds the garden has been afforded the opportunity to thrive.
Rachael Hemmings of the AMC had this to say of the group:
“We would like to thank volunteers from Remedi for their continued support of our RHS Britain in Bloom campaign. Volunteers have turned up in all weathers, keeping the garden tidy and being a valuable part of the team…”
Remedi receives its funding from the Nottinghamshire Youth Offending service, suggesting that the NYOS employs gardening in a similar way to Monty Don’s drugs rehabilitation program of recent years, though for young offenders rather than recovering addicts.
What is also undeniable are the economic gains of such a large scale volunteers project – last year alone more than £23 million was saved, as well as the £15 million raised both in corporate sponsorship and other means by hundreds of thousands of British citizens who put their backs and hands into the project.
By Josh Ellison