18 Jan 2021
The Papillon Project is an educational charity that promotes sustainable living and environmental awareness for young people. It is our continued privilege to work with secondary schools and sixth-form colleges in Norfolk to inspire young people to grow their own food for themselves and their local community. It is our very dedicated mission to help rehearse the next generation to know how to grow their own food so we can all start to live in a world that is greener and far more sustainable.
Our mission is achieved by creating and developing school allotments using mainly recycled, reclaimed and upcyclable (creative reuse) materials. We believe a school allotment should be a ‘permanent place of inspirational learning’ and all secondary schools and sixth-form colleges should have one! We passionately believe that a school allotment provides the most incredible opportunities for crucial and highly valuable life skills to be taught and imparted to young people. In many respects, we see a school allotment as a learning facility just as a sports hall or a drama studio is!
Improving mental health: Our charitable work is not just about promoting food growing! Having a school allotment really is the perfect place for young people to enjoy some temporary escapism from school books and exam pressures. It's certainly been proven that being outside, gardening and working with nature is extremely good for our mental wellbeing. We believe the happier young people are, the better learners they become.
Engaging local communities: The Papillon Project actively works with the surrounding communities of schools and colleges across Norfolk to positively engage with them and connect them to their local school/college. In our eyes, and from good experience, a school allotment serves as a ‘social connective hub’ to bring people together. From good experience, we believe that the key to a successful school allotment lies with having a strong bond with local people.
The Papillon Project recognises that teaching is a very busy and time consuming profession and so running a school allotment can be a real challenge and sometimes daunting. As a charity we support teachers to lead their school allotment projects, from supporting lunchtime sessions to building a school allotment from scratch or for free supportive advice, our charity is here to make school allotmenting far more achievable and sustainable for teachers themselves.
Along with engaging with a school’s local community, our biggest contribution to making school allotmenting sustainable is to actively help a school to ‘grow its own help’ so that a ‘shared responsibility’ is forged from amongst students, parents, staff and local people. One person doing everything is not sustainable, but a collective responsibility certainly works!
The Papillon Project has been founded by Matt Willer: Royal Horticultural Society’s School Garden Champion of the Year (2018) and Norwich & Norfolk Eco-hero of the Year (2019)
Matt Willer (center). Credit Jason Bye.
We are incredibly proud to have the support of some high profile organisations and figures including David Holmgren, the co-originator of the permaculture concept and Patron of our charity, who recorded this message for us ahead of our official launch in November 2019.
At the very start of 2020 we were extremely humbled to been chosen by Positive News magazine as one of a hundred people & organisations bringing hope in 2020 and 'an inspiring project to feel optimistic about in the decade ahead.' We were chosen alongside environmental legends like Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough!