GROW Ltd won Best Conservation Project in our Bailiwick Conservation Awards in 2023 for their 'Grow Guernsey Natives' project. Their project is a joint venture between GROW Ltd and the botany section of La Société Guernesiaise and aims to conserve native plant species and encourage islanders to include them in their gardens and other spaces. We caught up with the team at GROW Ltd to hear what it meant to win this year's Awards.
Congratulations on winning the 2023 Best Conservation Project in the Bailiwick - can you tell us how it feels to be named the winner?
We feel truly delighted to have won this award. This is a huge achievement, for us and the project, and we are immensely proud of our team. We are incredibly grateful to Insurance Corporation for choosing our project as the Best Conservation Project, and the public for their ongoing support of GROW Ltd and the important work our team do.
Can you tell us a little more about your project and its aims?
‘Grow Guernsey Natives’ is an initiative whose aim is to preserve our island's native plants. Launched in April 2022 by the Botany Section of La Société Guernesiaise and GROW Ltd, it is the brainchild of Raymond Evison and Helen Litchfield. The project seeks to educate and promote the planting of native and naturalised plant species, in both local gardens and the wider community.
The Bailiwick of Guernsey is home to 167 rare and endemic plant species that are considered uncommon in the British Isles, and 34 of those species are found in fewer than 25 locations in Great Britain and Ireland.
Seeds are collected from around the Island, by La Société Guernesiaise and Raymond Evison. The seeds are then sown at Raymond’s vinery and once germinated, the young plants are transferred to GROW Limited where the team tend and pot them on in preparation for sale.
In the first year, there were seven species of native and naturalised plants available for sale at GROW Limited and this has already increased to 22 species. Currently, 13 of these are for sale at GROW Limited. We are planning to take more plants over the next few weeks, and we hope to increase our range of species over the coming months.
What impact do you think the 'Grow Guernsey Natives' project has on our island?
The 'Grow Guernsey Natives' project is amazing for our island, as its aim is to is conserve our rare local plants for future generations. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to work with schools, community groups and businesses, to raise awareness about the importance of these conservation species.
It presents possibilities for the GROW Ltd team to learn more about nature and the environment, whilst providing opportunities for them to develop their literacy and numeracy skills.
How do you feel Grow Guernsey Natives might expand over the coming years?
We plan to expand the project into the community. This year, we have already worked on planting projects with Male Uprising Guernsey (MUG) and in the gardens at Government House, and we have just planted a bed of Grow Guernsey Natives at Beau Sejour Leisure Centre ahead of the Island Games. We want to do more work like this, and we know that planning applications for new developments in Guernsey will need to demonstrate that they will be providing space for a certain percentage of native plants, so this will be a terrific opportunity to expand the project.
The project partners would like to expand the number of species that are in the sales range. We are planning to take more plants over the next few weeks, and we hope to increase our range of species over the coming months. This would enable the team to learn and discover more about our local nature and environment.
We are also developing our social media presence and the information on the La Société Guernesiaise website about the project. We are working on a QR Code system, which will take the public to an informative web page, with links to the plants and information about each species.
How do you think the prize money from our Award might be spent?
Native plant species are vital for local insects and wildlife. The 'Grow Guernsey Natives' project seeks to educate and promote the planting of native and naturalised plant species, in both local gardens and the wider community. The prize money from this award will be used to:
Promote the benefits of planting local native species throughout the Bailiwick community, through branded messaging and information leaflets.
Deliver talks to public groups and education settings, at our new development.
Provide accessible materials and more training opportunities for the GROW Limited team working on the Grow Guernsey Natives range.