THE Cornfield Project, Grow Wild’s Northern Ireland flagship site, captured the hearts and imaginations of two communities in Coleraine, Millburn and Ballysally at its recent magical woodland enchanted evening event.
An estimated 1,000 visitors, young and old, attended the evening at Hartford Park, Ballysally which was officially launched by the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Alderman Maura Hickey and local children Summer Patterson, Alexis Burton and Jacob Faulkner.
Over 30 volunteers from Millburn, Ballysally and The Conservation Volunteers had helped ensure the site was ready for the magical woodland festival. The festival gave visitors the opportunity to see how their local area of 7.5 acres of scrubland had been transformed into a community woodland with beautiful wild flower meadows, sensory garden, community gardens and outdoor classroom spaces.
Catherine Armstrong, who is leading the project on behalf of Aspire Community Partnership, a local consortium of grass-roots community groups who are working together for the benefit of the Causeway area, said; “The launch event for the Cornfield Project was such a great success and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in helping us prepare and run such an amazing evening.
“We would like to encourage the local community to continue to come along and visit us and see how the site continues to progress as the Cornfield Project is all about bringing everyone together to help create a natural habitat that can be enjoyed by all.”
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Grow Wild is the national outreach initiative of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and aims to bring people together to transform local spaces with native, pollinator-friendly wild flowers and plants.
The festival launch event included an outdoor cinema showing Alice in Wonderland which was a huge success and a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party hosted by the ‘Big Telly Theatre Company’ with the Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts and The White Rabbit engaging with the local children.
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ffJJJThe Conservation Volunteers, aided by the visiting children, created the Cornfield Project’s first bug hotel standing at over three feet high!
Over twenty stalls and exhibitors added to the overall festival feel of the evening with the likes of RSPB making pine cone bird feeders, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council biodiversity manager creating home-made flowerpots, Cloughmills Incredible Edible baking delicious home-made soda bread, face painting, flower displays, butterfly walks with Butterfly Conservation, Wild Teas with Grow Wild and Asda supermarket providing free fruit.
Numerous competitions were held on the evening courtesy of local businesses including Henderson’s Pharmacy, Bishops Footwear and Maureen Ellis, who sold out of her beautiful hand made fairy doors, and provided a prize draw for a fairy dress. McCreadies Today Local in Ballysally donated over 300 boxes of free popcorn, drinks and sweets for the cinema showing.
Music was provided by a selection of different bands playing on The Cornflower and Poppy Stages and in and around the whole site. The atmosphere was set from the beginning to the end of the evening with pop, singer-song writers and rock to get everyone up and dancing.
Professional local magician Rodd Hogg entertained the huge crowd by making money disappear before their very eyes, reading minds and generally leaving people baffled as to what they had just witnessed!
Following on from winning a public vote to become Grow Wild’s Northern Ireland’s flagship site in November 2015, Coleraine’s Cornfield Project received funding from Grow Wild to create a thriving and colourful area of wild flowers, wildlife and environmentally sensitive spaces which are to be used by, and enjoyed by, all members of the public.
Stephanie Baine, Grow Wild Northern Ireland Partnership Manager said; “The event at the Cornfield Project was brilliant with an amazing atmosphere. The local community, the volunteers and the contributors were proud to be a part of a new chapter in the life of Ballysally and Millburn. The impact of what they have achieved here will continue for many years. Grow Wild is delighted to have been a part of this transformation, bringing wild flowers and nature to the people of Coleraine”.
Grow Wild received an incredible 23,493 votes to be named the UK’s Best Environment project in this year’s National Lottery Awards - the annual search to find the UK’s favourite Lottery-funded projects. Grow Wild’s achievements, including a number of locally funded projects in Northern Ireland helped them win it.
To celebrate winning their National Lottery Award, Grow Wild are giving away thousands of FREE wild flower seed packets to people all over the UK. For more information and terms and conditions please go to www.growwilduk.com