Growing Hero award

This award recognises someone who's set up a community growing scheme, or saved allotments and made a real difference.

Learn more about the shortlisted entrants here - and the winner, Patrick Frew.

    Winner: Patrick Frew - Cloughmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

    Patrick Frew - nominated for Growing Hero category of our Octavia Hill Awards

    Patrick turned a dream into a reality. 'Incredible Edible Cloughmills' is a shining example of what one passionate and respected person can achieve.

    Patrick wanted to increase the amount of food grown locally and involve everyone, whatever their age, with food production. Bringing the community with him, he turned a one-acre site into an extremely well appointed growing space with everything from 18 raised beds to polytunnels, rainwater harvesting, a bug hotel and two hens.

    Alongside regular school visits there’s a hugely popular ‘Muddy Boots Club’ for young children – aimed at reconnecting them with nature. Patrick’s ‘Doorstep Allotments’ are delivered to 50 elderly residents – recycled fruit boxes filled with homemade compost and easy salad plants.

    But Patrick is already onto Phase Two – 'The Happiness Project' – taking on a four-acre old mill site and using permaculture principles to establish 50 raised beds, a community orchard and even a compost loo.

    Nominated by Declan Donnelly, Ballymoney Borough Council

    Runner up: Kenneth Radford - St Austell, Cornwall

    l-r James Kirwen, Kenneth Radford and Darren Schmieden

    At Watering Lane Nursery, Ken believes that anything is possible. Through the People and Gardens day care service – for those with physical and emotional impairments – he grows and nurtures both the people and plants.

    In the real working environment of a vegetable market garden, Ken gives vulnerable people both practical skills and confidence in themselves. He has shaped People and Gardens into a sustainable social enterprise around high quality vegetable production and a thriving veg box scheme. It supplies 75 vegetable bags and vegetables to a local catering outlet.

    Ken is a total optimist and a joy to work with. He can quickly identify people’s strengths, and believes that everyone has the right to lead a fulfilling life and to be valued by others. He also provides real jobs for real money for some of those involved.

    One participant simply said…“Watering Lane helps me to be myself.”

    Nominated by Alistair Griffiths

    Runner up: Veronica Barry, Laura Davis and Helen Sneyd - Growing Opportunities Initiative, Sandwell, West Midlands

    Veronica Barry, Laura Davis, Helen Sneyd from Growing Opportunities

    Without these three women Growing Opportunities, Sandwell’s urban agriculture initiative, would not exist. Their simple aim is to improve health through horticulture and food skills, and by pooling their skills they’re reaching thousands of people as part of the Health and Well Being Service.

    Child poverty, low fruit and vegetable consumption and lack of exercise are real issues here, and Sandwell has long dreamt of creating a greener, more productive and healthier environment. Salop Drive Market Garden now supplies fresh produce to local people, and Malthouse Garden – once a 20-storey tower block – focuses on therapeutic and amenity growing with healthy walks and cooking classes.

    Veronica, Laura and Helen have built up a team of talented workers, and raised millions of pounds to regenerate derelict land as urban farms and community gardens. A third allotment site is planned – bringing the total growing area to 10 acres, and transforming many people’s lives.

    Nominated by Dr John Midldleton, Sandwell Primary Care Trust