A grant application with a difference. The only requirement was ‘Dazzle us with your brilliance’. Happy to oblige.
All things considered, Oxfordshire is a pretty good place to live. I am lucky to live within sight of the majestic and beautiful Wittenham Clumps. In fields around my village sheep graze, and in spring we can see lambs being born. My children love it here too; even school. Especially Thursdays. Thursday is Forest School Day. We wrap them in puddle proof clothing and they canʼt wait to get out amongst the trees.
I have abundant access to real food. I can buy meat directly from local suppliers – even visit their farms so that I can see their farming practices for myself. I buy salad greens, seasonable vegetables and honey thatʼs produced within a short distance of my home. I see exactly where my food comes from and the money I pay for it goes back into the local economy.
What is surprising that a single, local charity has a large influence in all this idyllic, rural living.
The Earth Trust
As the name suggests, the Earth Trust is a charity that has the needs of our environment at its core. Itʼs goal is to positively change our relationship with our environment, encouraging a change in behaviour, thereby safeguarding our planet for our grandchildren.
But itʼs not the impact on my life that drives me to nominate the Earth Trust for this award. You see, itʼs actually not that difficult to run an environmental charity here in Oxfordshire. Itʼs always going to be an easy sell. You appeal to those with disposable incomes who have already chosen to live in beautiful countryside. You take their money, plough it into the environment and they go home happy that they have ʻdone their bit for the planetʼ.
But the Earth Trust goes deeper. Much deeper. Remember that some of the very poorest areas in the country are here in Oxfordshire. The Earth Trust stands by its policy that itʼs for everyone, regardless of age or social status.
Take, for example, the ʻConnecting naturallyʼ project. Run over three years, this project has touched the lives of over 20,000 children and their families who donʼt usually have contact with the natural world. And rather than bringing those people out to the countryside for a one-off trip, they have made the connection by actually creating high- quality environments right in the heart of the areas of the people who need it most. The Earth Trust have created 10 wildlife gardens in existing childrenʼs centres across Oxfordshire. They have provided training for staff and parents in how to care and connect with these gardens, thereby leaving a lasting legacy in these needy communities.
Whatʼs the best way of helping people? Give them the opportunity to help themselves. This is what Farm Step does. Aimed specifically at those who canʼt get access to farmable land, or who canʼt get funding due to lack of skills, this scheme gives a unique opportunity to those who want to get into farming but canʼt break through the traditional barriers. Land is made available to rent through the Earth Trust under favourable terms and new businesses are immediately supported by the existing network of others that are part of the scheme.
Itʼs by going for the lasting solution over the easy win that sets the Earth Trust apart. Anyone can do a good deed, but not everyone can think in terms of positive change that safeguards the future as well as improves lives today. In this regard, the Earth Trust does have diamond like qualities – itʼs rare, valuable and lasting.