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.