What is a Growing Hero?

Do you know someone who has made a real difference to your local community? We asked key figures and organisations what they think makes a Growing Hero, in the run up to the Octavia Hill awards. 

Picture by Sam Morgan Moore/apexnewspix.com. 25/03/2009. A rare jade vine has flowered and brought spring colour to the Rainforest Biome at Cornwall's Eden Project. The exotic pale green hanging plant, which can grow up to 100m in length in its native Philippines, is pollinated by bats, but as there are none in the Biome, supervisor John Nichol has been mimicking their action with his hands

Each day this week, we’ll be looking in detail at one of the categories of the National Trust’s Octavia Hill Awards, in partnership with Countryfile Magazine, talking to organisations about what they think the judges should be looking for and, hopefully, inspiring you to celebrate our countryside’s unsung heroes by nominating your friends, colleagues and mentors.


Today, we asked key figures and organisations what they thought made a Growing Hero.

The judges say: “A growing hero could have set up a community agriculture scheme, saved an allotment and made a real difference.”

Janet Jephcott, Community Gardener at Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire, says: “Growing heroes is all about passionate people who have a made real difference to their local community, inspiring others to roll up their sleeves and get involved. It is their determination and commitment to get people mobilised that might have led to the setting up of a community growing scheme or perhaps they spearheaded a campaign to save an allotment from development. They are the sort of person that just gets things done without a fuss.”

Tom Flood CBE, BTCV‘s Chief Executive, says: “Someone who has real grit and determination to make a difference, helping others to live more sustainably along the way.”

Dr Alistair Griffiths, The Eden Project‘s Horticultural Science Curator, says: “An optimistic, hopeful and solution focused individual who is dedicated to maximising environmental benefit and human well-being.”

Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine says: “People who, through their generous actions, make their local community more sustainable while reducing negative impacts on the local environment.”

Clio Turton, Press Office Manager for the Soil Association, says: “Whoever wins the growing hero award should definitely be someone who uses growing methods that work as closely with nature as possible, does not use pesticides and other horrible garden chemicals, and generally tries to be as sustainable as possible – such as using local materials, protecting heritage varieties, saving seed etc. But also, perhaps someone who is not scared to be innovative and do things differently to try and reach out to a wider audience.”


Catherine Cutler, Eden Project Mediterranean Biome Supervisor

Follow these links to find out more about Octavia Hill, the categories and to enter the awards.


Send us an email or comment on Twitter (#octaviahill) to tell us what you think makes a Growing Hero – we’d love to hear from you!