Seeds for growth

The National Wildflower Centre Seeds for Growth Project is helping to promote the creation of a new wildflower landscape across Britain.

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Context

The National Wildflower Centre Seeds for Growth project consists of the construction of a national visitor attraction and base for the wildflower seed industry on Merseyside. The project also includes the reclamation of the derelict 14 hectare Court Hey Park and the establishment of 30 hectares of wildflowers for seed production along road verges and redundant farmland. The project seeks to address the rapid decline of species richness and diversity in the UK, whilst also addressing climate change impacts on the countryside and delivering environmental justice and employment in deprived urban areas. It brings together some of the leading creative conservation players in the first National Wildflower Centre in Europe. The project is located in the borough of Knowsley on the outskirts of Liverpool, which has some of the most run-down urban estates in Europe, a legacy of the decline of the local manufacturing industry.

Creating new wildflower landscapes

The aim of the project is to promote the creation of new wildflower landscapes across the UK. To achieve this, the project includes a number of specific objectives, including:

  • To transform the derelict Court Hey Park into a tourist attraction and vibrant Centre for the wildflower seed industry;
  • To put derelict land back into production, create employment and supporting farmers on the urban fringe;
  • To develop a new niche market in wildflower seeds, through creative conservation and wildflower gardening and tourism;
  • To produce large quantities of wildflower seed for marketing nationally;
  • To improve the visual appearance of land and provide valuable wildflower habitat;
  • To create two sustainable businesses that promote an environmental ethic and good landscape stewardship;
  • To bring together national representatives of conservation organisations to form a Board of Trustees to address the challenges in situ fixed geographical conservation in the face of climate change and issues of genetic provenance.

Results

The project has resulted in the refurbishment of stable blocks and a walled garden and in the construction of a new, award winning building. The completed centre now houses a café, a shop, conference facilities, offices, seed processing facilities, drying tunnels and exhibition space.

Court Hey Park has been transformed into a vibrant Green Flag Award winning park, which is now a major tourist attraction in the North West UK. The wildflower sowings have also won a UNESCO UK Man and the Biosphere Urban Forum Award for Excellence.

The project has also succeeded in putting 30 hectares of derelict land back into production, producing seed of over 100 wildflower species for marketing through mail order catalogues and retail outlets.

Wildflower sowings are also being actively promoted in public spaces across Merseyside, and particularly in Knowsley, which has become known as ‘the Wildflower Borough.” The project has been the catalyst for the establishment of the Green Fayre and Knowsley Flower Show at the Centre, attracting over 20 000 people annually.

The project has created 10 full-time and 6 part-time posts at the Centre and is also benefiting the declining agricultural sector on Merseyside, through land rentals and sub-contracting.

The National Wildflower Centre Seeds for Growth project has created a living seedbank and a vibrant centre for wildflower displays, the arts, education and the wildflower seed industry on Merseyside. The project has helped to change internal and external perceptions of the area, fostering citizenship, promoting pride, and engendering self confidence in an area of high social deprivation.

Draft date

01/06/2006