The Big Sunflower Project 2020 (end of year report)

2020 was the tenth year of The Big Sunflower Project with people taking part in the UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Greece, the USA, Australia and the Philippines.

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As always schools and nurseries received seeds. Other recipients included home educating families, children learning from home due to coronavirus, schools that remained open to the children of key workers, NHS hospitals and medical centres, brownies, a horticultural society, a charity that supports people recovering from homelessness and addiction, an allotment project for children and adults with additional support needs, a charity which works with people who have learning disabilities and a residential home for older people with dementia. This year seeds and small plants were also given away in our local neighbourhood to spread a little happiness during a time in which happiness has been in short supply.

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Project map

This year 251 places were plotted on the project map which can be seen below – click a sunflower to learn more about the people growing sunflowers in that location.

In the news

The project received some lovely publicity over the last twelve months which can be read below and we are incredibly grateful to those who have taken the time to write about what we do.

We are also grateful to all the Clinical Commissioning Groups that promoted the project to their staff and on social media at the beginning of the year.

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The Blakemore Foundation

In August, we were delighted to learn that we were to receive a £100 donation from the Blakemore Foundation, a charitable trust established by the Blakemore family to support good causes across A.F. Blakemore’s trading area (including the SPAR trading area.) Funding such as this is crucial to the work of The Information Point and The Big Sunflower Project, so we are hugely grateful to the Blakemore Foundation for their support.

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Photos

Over 750 photos were received from 69 participants this year. Every photo received was posted on social media to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy and these can be viewed below.

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All photos received are shared on our website and social media pages and are really important to us, as they help raise awareness of the project and of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. They also help evidence the impact of our work.

If you grew sunflowers this summer but have not yet sent photos it is not too late and we would still love to see these. Photos can be sent by email or shared on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #TheBigSunflowerProject.

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Harvesting sunflower seeds

After a sunflower has flowered, its seeds can be harvested for planting again the following year. A single seed planted in the spring can produce many seeds in the autumn and these can be extracted from the seed head once a sunflower has dried out. Want to try saving your own seeds? You can learn how here on the project website.

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Share your story

Each year we ask people who have taken part in The Big Sunflower Project to share their story. The stories help us to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy and again help when we apply for funding. You can read stories from previous projects below.

If you have grown sunflowers with the project this year and would be willing to write your story too, please get in touch.

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This year the project celebrated its 10th anniversary – it has been a very different year to the one anticipated but we hope if you took part, you enjoyed growing your sunflowers and that they brought a little sunshine into the lives of those who grew the sunflowers and those who saw the photos.

Further information

Further information about the project can be found on here on the project website and on the project social media pages.

The Big Sunflower Project 2020 (mid year report)

2020 is the tenth year of The Big Sunflower Project and a milestone event for the little project, which originally was only meant to last for one year.

Dwarf sunflowers planted in wellington boots.

Obviously, no one expected the coronavirus situation and in March seed distribution was suspended.  We tentatively re-started in April and during late April and early May, were able to get some final batches of seeds safely in the post. Recipients included children currently home from school, schools that remained open to the children of key workers, a charity that supports people recovering from homelessness and addiction, a specialist worker for the Early Help and Prevention Service, an allotment project for children and adults with additional support needs, Enable Scotland (a charity which works with people who have learning disabilities), a residential home for older people with dementia and a hospital caring for a child with myotubular myopathy.

Sunflowers planted at Westminster Primary School, Ellesmere Port.

Our intention at the beginning of the year had been to distribute 300 packets of seeds and we now know of over 290 people participating in the UK, on the Isle of Man, France, Greece, Germany, Sweden,  Australia and the Philippines, so we are feeling a tiny bit proud of ourselves for getting so close to our target at this difficult time. 238 places are currently plotted on the project map which can be viewed below. Click anywhere on the map to open it up and click a sunflower to learn about the people growing sunflowers in a particular location.  If you are growing sunflowers but cannot see yourself on the map, please ask to be added. As always, we wholeheartedly welcome anyone who grows sunflowers to take part in the project, even if they did not obtain their sunflower seeds from us.

In addition to posting seeds out, seeing as we had been thrown a curve ball, we decided to do a few things differently this year too.

Earlier in the year the project received a large donation of vegetable seeds. During the first three months of the year, these were sent together with sunflower seeds, to anyone who applied to the project and advised they had an allotment or stated they wanted seeds for a gardening club but from late April onwards, we began to give away our sunflower and vegetable seeds locally and we planted dwarf sunflowers, peas, cucumbers and runner beans and gave small plants away too.

Box containing free plants.

Secondly, we decided to send seeds to schools we knew were still open for the children of key workers.  We thought being a small person with all this chaos going on right now, together with not being able to be with your friends and watching your parents go off to work each day must be quite a scary time, so decided to send a few surprise packages to schools, in the hope it would bring some cheer, make the children feel a bit special and give them something to look forward to – hopefully staff and parents would get some enjoyment from seeing the sunflowers too. It has been very lovely to hear from some of the schools and other recipients that the seeds and plants have been well received.

Jen and Holger planting sunflower seeds in Germany.

ZNM-Zusammenstark! e.v. 

This year the project is once again being joined by ZNM-Zusammenstark! e.v. growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and sadly passed away in 2016.  Founded in 2015, ZNM-Zusammenstark! e.v. is a German association for those affected by centronuclear and  myotubular myopathy. Visit their website to read what they have to say about being part of The Big Sunflower Project.

Jade Bear watering sunflowers at Tinsley Meadows Primary School.

In the news

The project has received some lovely publicity this year which can be read below and we are incredibly grateful to those who have taken the time to write about what we do.

Sunflowers growing at Spitalfields Crypt.

Resources

If you are  using your sunflower seeds for educational purposes, fundraising events or would like to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy at the place where you are growing your sunflowers, you can download flyers from the resources area of the website. You will also find resources for teaching children and to start conversations about equality and diversity.

Make a donation

The Big Sunflower Project is an initiative of The Information Point for Centronuclear and Myotubular Myopathy. The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the rare neuromuscular conditions known as centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, by sending seeds to people who have never heard of the conditions and requesting photos in return, which are shared in the Information Point newsletter and on the project social media pages, again raising awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. There is no charge for project seeds or the cost of postage, the project does however, welcome donations to ensure the future of the project and to enable seeds to be sent to as many people as possible each year. If you have donated for your seeds, thank you. If you would like to donate, you can learn more about how to do this below.

Our friends

This year project seeds have been donated by Thompson and Morgan and Tamar Organics. Seeds were also donated by Mike Rogers, Linda Fowler and Flower Power Lymo who grew sunflowers during the 2019 project and saved their seeds.

We are also grateful to everyone who has donated to The Big Sunflower Project since 2011, enabling us to celebrate our 10th anniversary.  You can read about these people below.

Looking forward to seeing everyone’s sunflower photos over the summer. Until then  stay safe everyone.

Planting sunflowers in Birkenhead.

Further information

Further information about the project can be found on The Big Sunflower Project website and on social media, where photos can be shared using #TheBigSunflowerProject. Use #centronuclear, #centronuclearmyopathy, #myotubular and #myotubularmyopathy to help raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy too.

 

The Big Sunflower Project 2020

The Big Sunflower Project 10th anniversary logo.

The Big Sunflower Project is an initiative of The Information Point for Centronuclear and Myotubular Myopathy which aims to provide information about and raise awareness of these rare neuromuscular conditions. The project raises awareness by sending sunflower seeds to people who have never heard of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy and by sharing participants photos online.

2020 is the tenth year of the project and this year 300 packets of seeds containing 50 seeds will be distributed in 2020 (one packet of seeds per applicant.) Project seeds are sent free of charge to participants but anyone wanting to make a donation for their seeds can do so via this website.

Donations are ploughed back into the project – they enable the project to send more seeds to more people and help secure the future of the project.

Please note, The Big Sunflower Project is not associated with any freebie websites. Please do not share information about the project with these organisations. The project does not have the capacity to deal with the number of requests generated by being advertised on these websites and if featured, it will force seed distribution to stop.

Anyone is welcome to apply for seeds but priority is given to families affected by centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, community groups and good causes. Previously, seeds have been donated to schools and nurseries, community groups, groups who work with disadvantaged people, hospices and youth groups to name a few, so as well as raising awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, the project supports the activities of these groups too.

Please note, it is only possible to send seeds to the UK and Europe but the project wholeheartedly welcomes participation from anyone who wants to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy by growing a sunflower and people who buy their own seeds are welcome to join in.

Photos submitted to the project are shared on the project social media pages (Facebook,  FlickrInstagramTwitterLinkedIn) and in The Information Point newsletter Our World. Photos are also sometimes used in applications for grants and funding, without which the project could not continue.

Sunflower seeds for The Big Sunflower Project 2020 have been donated by Thompson and Morgan and Tamar Organics.

Seeds have also been donated by Mike Rogers and Linda Fowler who grew sunflowers during the 2019 project and saved the seeds. 

2020 European Family Conference

The next European centronuclear and myotubular myopathy family conference will take place in Bad Nauheim, near Frankfurt from 21 – 24 May 2020. The event will offer workshops, lectures with simultaneous translation, a children’s programme and more.Together Even Stronger 2020 image.For further information and to register, visit any of the websites listed below.

 

The Big Sunflower Project 2019 (end of year report)

2019 was the ninth year of The Big Sunflower Project. This year seeds were sent across the UK and to The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany and sunflowers were also grown in Canada, the USA and Argentina. For the third time the project was joined by people growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and sadly passed away in 2016. And for the first time sunflowers were grown in Australia, for George who has myotubular myopathy.

Sunflower growing season is now over in the UK but if you are in a part of the world about to get its summer, please consider buying a packet of seeds and growing a sunflower to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, we would love to continue receiving sunflower photos over the winter months.

Sunflowers grown in Harpenden during The Big Sunflower Project 2019.

The Big Sunflower Project is only possible because of the kindness of the organisations who support our work with donations, discounts, funding and publicity. Sunflower seeds for The Big Sunflower Project 2019 were provided by Kings Seeds, who provided 300 packets of seeds at a large discount.

Seeds were also donated by people who harvested seeds from sunflowers they grew during the 2018 project – thank you Katrin, Mike and the University of Leicester Social Impact team. In addition the project received a £200 donation from Cheshire West Voluntary Action, a £150 donation from Sanctuary Housing and a donation of stamps from project participant Sue.

The Big Sunflower Project was also recently featured in the Liverpool Echo and we are grateful to Semble and the Liverpool Echo for making this happen. You can read the article below.

Sunflower grown in Leeds during The Big Sunflower Project 2019.

Project map

This year 300 places were plotted on the project map which can be seen below – click a sunflower to learn more about the people growing sunflowers in that location.

Photos

Over 700 photos were received from 81 participants this year. Every photo received was posted on social media to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. Photos from the 2019 project can be found below.

Sunflower grown in Chester during The Big Sunflower Project 2019.

Stories

Thank you to every one who shared their story with the project this year. The new stories can be found below.

Participant stories are incredibly important as they show the reach and impact of the project. If you would like to share your story too, please get in touch.

Sunflower grown in Chester during The Big Sunflower Project 2019.

Harvesting sunflower seeds

Don’t forget that if you have grown a sunflower this year you can save the seeds for growing next year or you can donate these to the project for others to grow. You can learn how to harvest your sunflower seeds below.

Sunflower grown in Leeds during The Big Sunflower Project 2019.

Make a donation

There is no charge for project seeds or the cost of postage, the project does however, welcome donations to ensure the future of the project and to enable seeds to be sent to as many people as possible each year. If you have donated for your seeds, thank you – if you like to donate you can learn more about how to do this below.

The Big Sunflower Project 2020

Preparations are already underway for The Big Sunflower project 2020. This is a milestone year for the project as it will be the tenth year we have grown sunflowers to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. You can read below how the project began.

100 packets of seeds have already been donated by Thompson and Morgan and seeds will shortly be arriving from Tamar Organics and Grow Seed. Harvested seeds from 2019 project participants are also promised.

We have also been able to obtain discounted postage stamps for 2020. Stamps are a major expense for the project and if we were say to send seeds to 300 people during the year, at current prices (83p for a large second class stamp) this would cost £249.00. Stamps for the 2020 project have been purchased with a discount of between 8 – 12% so is a massive saving which we will now be able to use elsewhere – thank you to Mike Abram for all his hard work sorting this for the project.

Next year we will once again be joined by our friends Zusammenstark, growing sunflowers for Emil. You can learn more about their involvement on their website below.

Sunflowers grown in Germany during The Big Sunflower Project 2019.

Further information

Further information about the project can be found on here on the project website and on the project social media pages.

Seed distribution for The Big Sunflower Project will begin again in early 2020. An announcement will be made on social media advising when seed applications are once again being accepted.