Coming out of the pandemic and the challenges of the last 18 months, the idea was formed to present a packet of sunflower seeds for each new birth registered in our district. Both sunflowers and babies need careful nurturing to grow to maturity; the sunflower seeds bring forth a rich and vibrant flower and that same richness, joy and vibrancy is brought to families with the arrival of a new baby.
As sunflowers grow towards the sun it is a reminder that we should focus on brighter days. Gardening throughout the pandemic was shown to reduce stress and help improve mood, and the seeds are perfect for those with large gardens or just a window box, and therefore suitable for all our residents.
There is the added bonus in planting sunflowers as they have a positive impact on biodiversity by keeping our bees happy, as they provide lots of nectar in the one large flowerhead and birds love to eat the seeds after the sunflower has flowered.
This initiative allows mums, dads, grandparents, and older brothers and sisters to get involved in planting the seeds, nurturing them and enjoying watching them grow, just as they watch the new baby grow. We set our residents a challenge to beat the world record and grow a sunflower to stand higher than the current record of 9.17m.
We launched this initiative on 21 June 2021 and to date, 288 families have been presented with a packet of seeds.
Useful Learnings from FODC
We had explored another option of providing native tree saplings to represent each birth, however the logistical and financial challenges of this initiative made us look at other options.
The team discussed options of providing seeds and explored which type would grow best in our climate and be suitable for all residents to partake in, irrespective of whether they had a garden or not.
Along with the Council's Biodiversity Team we sourced seeds which will grow easily in our climate and used a local provider.
A press launch with a local family who had just registered their new baby was set up with the Council Chair to ensure that our residents were aware of the initiative.
As we approached autumn we looked at sourcing different seeds to provide to families. Although the sunflower seeds will keep for planting until next spring, we are conscious that we do not want them to be set aside and wasted if packs are provided during the winter months.
Number of families engaged.