Launched in 2017, the Lush Spring Prize is a joint venture between Ethical Consumer and Lush Cosmetics. The prize celebrates the importance of holistic, regenerative approaches, highlighting their power in facing complex challenges the climate crisis creates. These approaches work to nurture ecology and people simultaneously, and this year twenty incredible groups around the world have been announced as prize recipients.
Two key aims of the Spring Prize are to deepen the collective understanding of regeneration, and to explore how to best communicate this to inspire more people to get involved. By supporting regenerative projects, the Spring Prize hopes more people will learn about these possibilities of regeneration, pursuing ways to implement these ideas in their own contexts. Resisting further damage, generating renewable resources, nurturing solidarity and cooperative ways of living, and building health, wholeness and resilience.
The Lush Spring Prize supports and celebrates this work through:
- A biennial £200,000+ prize fund.
- Events that bring people together to share their skills and experience.
- Publicity to raise awareness of regeneration and its potential to heal damaged systems.
This year the prize received 400 applications, submitted by projects spanning 81 different countries and every continent except Antarctica. Projects ranged from grassroots campaigners, small-scale agroecological producers, regenerative businesses, Indigenous-led groups, academics, global solidarity networks and think tanks. Their varied work addressed multiple issues including ecosystem restoration, regenerative food production, building communities, creating resilient housing, and circular economies, whilst also supporting displaced people and protecting Indigenous rights and access to land.
The 2021 prizes were awarded across six categories: Intentional, Young, Established and Influence Awards, a Youth In Permaculture Prize and an Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award, investing more than £220,000 in regenerative work. If you want to feel inspired, and find new organisations to support, read on to learn about these brilliant projects.
Mount Oku Centre for Gender and Socioeconomic Empowerment (MOCGSE)
Based in the Bamenda Highlands of Cameroon, the Mount Oku Community has experienced serious socioeconomic hardship over the last four years, due to the escalation of an armed civil conflict and COVID-19. The community previously depended on activities such as farming and ecotourism, mostly run by men, but due to these crises activities such as forest regeneration and bee planting have come to a standstill.
The Mount Oku Centre for Gender and Socioeconomic Empowerment (MOCGSE) was initiated by women to empower women and girls; ensuring the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the Oku community by leveraging their knowledge and skills.
The centre will serve as a platform to market food and household items locally produced by women as well as for self-help micro-finance services. Key activities will involve training and community investment activities, such as bee farming, forest regeneration and medicinal plant processing. In five years it will become a registered women’s cooperative.
Fundación Cuidemos Paraísos
This organisation is comprised of young people determined to work in balance with nature, striving to actively collaborate in the recovery of native forests by raising awareness of the intrinsic natural and cultural wisdom of a territory. Of all the reforestation projects that exist, only 30% are successful. This is one of the problems that they seek to solve through innovation.
The Foundation proposes to integrate ecological, educational research projects, and create a new method of native forest regeneration, which will help to activate and strengthen new points of biodiversity.
Their vision is to create new resilient and prosperous biodiversity hotspots, joining forces with other projects to protect the world’s native forests alongside native communities. They envision the creation of a Global Network of Green Spots: a strong and resilient movement that supports the interconnection of these hotspots through globally connected biological corridors.
PermaQueer focuses on community resilience in tandem with environmental resilience.
Established in March 2020 as Covid hit Naarm, Australia, founders Toad and Guy realised the resilience in their Permaculture transition home and noticed LGBTQIA & BIPOC friends in contemporary living arrangements suffering. They realised the power of being embedded in food networks and community-based systems.
PermaQueer started online introductions to Permaculture for friends, which then quickly spread among the queer community. They offer free and pay-as-you-feel courses, teaching ecological foundations, permaculture, social justice, decolonisation, and trauma and neurodivergent informed systems, based on building community resilience globally.
Their community education unpacks systems of consumerism, white supremacy and colonial binaries to restructure community-based, resilient alternatives. They are collaborating on a decolonising and re-indigenising cell for the global permaculture movement with @LiberationPermaculture, as well as working with international partners to develop fair and resilient ecologically-informed ways of relating. They hope to develop these systems into co-housing villages, food systems, cultural capacity training and regenerative restoration programs.
Sacha Kuyrana Maltakuna, Young Kichwa Defenders of the Forest
Sachawaysa, Ecuador, sits where the Amazon forest meets the foothills of the Andes at 900 meters elevation. The community has self-organised to work honestly, proactively, and transparently to regenerate Kichwa culture and forests. Both were almost destroyed by Spanish settlement in the region, which brought hostile attitudes and actions towards Kichwa people, their customs and regional rainforests.
Sacha Kuyrana Maltakuna – Young Kichwa Defenders of the Forest – plan to buy a one-hectare property, build a simple office with local materials, and map, design, and plant an ancestral home garden with dozens of fruit, nut, palm, medicinal, and hardwoods, including traditional species which help to improve soils, and short cycle plants and fungi, such as edible mushrooms collected from the forest. They will develop an online Kichwa vegetarian recipe book, full of traditional foods and recipes, to share with young people in the region.
Young people will organise and participate in projects, and will ask the grandparents (elders) for advice on values, on projects, and how to successfully extend their work to benefit surrounding communities.
Kenyan Peasants League
Formed in 2016, Kenyan Peasants League (KPL) is a social movement of Kenyan Peasant farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and consumers, whose main aim is to promote smallholder farmer agroecology and resist neoliberal policies that threaten local agriculture. This is done by conducting political education, people’s research, technical training, and national advocacy. KPL promotes Indigenous seeds, livestock and plant varieties, and the creation of an alternative economy that is driven by provision for livelihoods.
KPL’s achievements include:
- Establishing seeds banks in 245 households
- Mobilising 245 households to practice agroecology for food sovereignty
- Distributing indigenous seeds to 78 households during Covid-19
- Organising Seed and Food Festivals and Peasants Agroecology Summer Schools.
Comunità Frizzante is a diverse network of organisations and informal groups that are passionate about the Vallagarina valley in the Italian Alps. The group mobilises the participatory production of fizzy drinks to challenge individualised ways of life and alienation from the mountains they are based in, focusing on ecological respect.
The drinks have proved a great tool for investigating and challenging destructive economic practices. With the cola, the group inquires together with teenagers into the politics of multinational food corporations. With the orangeade (produced from surplus orange pulp) they support the fight against hyper-exploitative labour of undocumented workers in orange production. With their grape drink, they question the grape monocultures invading their valleys, while campaigning for regenerative agriculture.
The project shows how activities of social inclusion can take a non-stigmatising form, which led to the co-establishment of a ‘school of well-being’ with the local mental health centre. They also run public courses, foraging walks and connect with migrant workers.
Food Secured Schools Africa
Food Secured Schools Africa (FSSA) is a social enterprise set up in Ethiopia in 2018. They offer technical support and seedlings to low-income parents who access the unused land of schools to produce chemical-free vegetables and fruits. Their work becomes a source of income for the parents and a source of fresh and nutritious food for children enrolled in education programs.
The parents generate income by selling mainly through the School Feeding Program (a governmental initiative to keep disadvantaged children in the education system), but their yield may also be used for their own subsistence, which proved particularly useful during Covid-19.
In two years FSSA has achieved the set-up and the sustainable management of nine school gardens in Addis Ababa and the Oromia Region, involving over 300 parents who produced up to 30 tonnes of vegetables per hectare of land.
Education for Climate Action for Peace
Education for Climate Action for Peace (E4CAP) was birthed in October 2019 to combat climate breakdown and provide sustainable living education and livelihood preparedness training to refugees and stateless teens and youths, who don’t have access to mainstream education and can’t work legally in Malaysia.
Since 2019, they have organised and supported:
- Introduction to Permaculture Workshops
- Teens4CAP ‘Eco-Edible Urban Gardening’ Online Courses
- Teens Celebration for World Soil Day & World Environment Day in Malaysia
- World Soil Day Awards for Teens
- Three-month Vocational Internships on Sustainable Living
- Garden to Table’ cooking video series for UCSI University and Living Lab
- E-commerce for UCSI Living Lab for selling crops and seeds
- Providing vegetables to refugee centres and 20 single mother refugee families
- Starter veggie pots for 70 low-income families
- The design and set-up of edible gardens at an Alzheimer centre, a school for children with additional needs, and UCSI University and College
Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura
Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura (IMAP) started in 2000 in San Lucas Tolimán, on the shores of Lake Atitlán in the Mayan highlands of Guatemala.
It was created by a group of Maya Kakchiquel folk with the desire to use native seeds, permaculture, traditional Indigenous knowledge and education to create social healing after 36 years of internal armed conflict that wiped out hundreds of communities; displacing millions from their land and disrupting the transfer of culture and ancestral knowledge.
IMAP was established to comprehensively address the poverty and malnutrition suffered by Indigenous communities in the lake basin as well as throughout the Mesoamerican region, who were disproportionately violated during the war and left largely dispossessed following the signing of peace. IMAP’s work revolves around providing communities with access to land, seeds, and excellent permaculture education.
IMAP has trained more than 10,000 smallholder farmers in basic principles of agroecology and seed conservation, increasing the capacity of communities to adapt to climate variability and combating malnutrition by promoting food sovereignty and strengthening the local market.
Empowering people through community-driven permaculture projects since 2001, Permatil recognised the urgent need to regenerate Timor-Leste’s natural environment and create sustainable livelihoods and resilient communities, while strengthening culture and traditional knowledge.
Their work includes:
- Planning and implementing permaculture projects with communities across Timor-Leste
- Training of future trainers – including NGO and government staff, community leaders and local farmers – in water and soil conservation, agroecology, agroforestry, aquaculture and organic farming
- Establishing a national farmer’s food sovereignty network
- Water restoration and preservation projects to rehabilitate springs and store water in the ground in 174 communities
- Producing Timorese educational resources including illustrated readers, films, posters and the Permaculture Guidebook from Timor-Leste
- Producing the Tropical Permaculture Guidebook, accessed online on a pay-what-you-can basis
- Incorporating a permaculture school gardens program in the national primary school curriculum, a global first
- Advocating for permaculture-based change
Permatil would like to build more awareness of their work in the region to help and inspire other groups to see the benefits of and get involved in permaculture, through school gardens, water conservation, tree planting and youth ‘in action’ projects, and start collaborating with similar organisations on future projects.
The Landworkers’ Alliance
The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) is a UK-based grassroots, democratic, member-led union of farmers, growers, foresters and land-based workers founded in 2012. Set up to fill the gap in the representation of small-scale agroecological landworkers in the UK, their mission is to improve the livelihoods of their members – creating a better food and land-use system for everyone based on agroecology, food sovereignty and sustainable forestry that furthers social and environmental justice.
- Leading policy changes at local and national levels, including ensuring that agroecology was recognised and included in the recent UK Agriculture Bill
- Providing advocacy support for members and delivering farmer-to-farmer training and exchange events, mentoring and traineeship opportunities
- Membership of the Climate Justice collective at previous COP events, and representing La Via Campesina (of which they have been a member since 2013) internationally
Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre
Fambidzanai Permaculture Centre (FPC) was established in 1988 in Zimbabwe to pioneer climate-sensitive agriculture in the region such as permaculture, agroecology and other sustainable practices.
Over the past 25 years they’ve aided the expansion of agroecology and certified organic farming, food security, value-addition and processing, and farmer agency consolidation.
- The diploma in Agroecology programme at FPC, which has begun training government staff on Agroecology and contributed to the development of agroecology policy in Zimbabwe
- Development of an Agroecology and Organic Farming Policy for proposed transformation of food systems for Zimbabwe
- The Renewable Energy Empowering Women Farmers project, which has empowered more than 12,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries
- Part of Zimbabwe Seed Sovereignty Program (ZSSP), which has influenced policy and raised awareness on conservation of heirloom seeds
- Development of niche agroecology literature and Master of Agroecology Farmer Guide Practices for specific regions in Zimbabwe
- Establishment of Zimbabwe Alliance for the Promotion and Practice of Agroecology (ZAPPA)
Gaza Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform
Gaza Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture Platform’s (GUPAP) work responds to the challenging urban context of the Gaza Strip, where economic opportunities are very limited and urban agriculture is not officially recognised.
Over the years, GUPUP has:
- Facilitated five policies relating to local market-oriented urban and peri-urban agriculture development. This included an advocacy campaign to advocate for the rights of urban women agripreneurs. GUPAP succeeded in facilitating a safe influencing and exchange space, the first of its kind in Palestine, called Urban Women Agripreneurs Forum (UWAF);
- Promoted urban family farming and food sovereignty as strategies to enhance resilience of farming communities in crisis conditions
Centro de Cultura Sabuká Kariri-Xocó
The Kariri-Xocó sleep and wake up fighting for their existence. Within their territory is a unique biome, the meeting of the Caatinga – the only exclusively Brazilian biome – with the Atlantic Forest. Their village is located on the banks of the Opará, the São Francisco River in Brazil, but their lands and plants are dry because the river suffers.
The Centro de Cultura Sabuká Kariri-Xocó was born with the mission of fighting for the preservation of their life and all the beings that live there. It gathers children, young people and elders to be together, as their ancestors did. In addition to nurturing culture, they plant community gardens, harvest and feed themselves in groups of up to 100 people a day, and hold their Torés, dialogues, games, football and other activities.
They dream of taking back ancestral memory and guaranteeing food, collective work, union and the strengthening of their culture. With this project, they see a great possibility of survival for their ethnic group and village. It provides the hope of resistance for their people.
The Marginalized Mirror
The Marginalized Mirror will provide knowledge sharing around responsible investments in agriculture and food systems for the marginalized Ovazemba communities in Namibia to produce their own organic food through regenerative agriculture.
The current and future impact of COVID-19 on the Ovazemba Indigenous community, compounded by the harsh reality of Namibia’s nationwide economic crisis, restricted movements, and recurring droughts, is immeasurable. The community depends on the production of crops and livestock. The droughts have resulted in the loss of sources of dairy products and traditional crops normally planted during the rainy season, while the restricted movement of people due to COVID-19 prevented pastoralists from heading livestock to neighbouring countries with better rainfall like Angola for better grazing pastures.
The project will provide training on crop production under an irrigation system to produce food and fodder for human and livestock production and sell the surplus for income generation. They aim to support a community-based irrigation project managed by Indigenous Ovazemba community members, who will run the project sustainably for themselves and future generations.
Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs
Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs (MSPC) trains teachers in northern Malawi to run after-school student permaculture clubs. Through the clubs, students learn permaculture concepts and skills and apply them directly on their school grounds, creating polyculture garden patches to grow indigenous food crops.
Now in their 6th year, MSPC has expanded to work with 22 schools, reached over 2,000 participants and trained 120 teachers. They have developed session packs and training for teachers, providing tools and seeds to get schools started, whilst increasing the input of community members in the project. They’re now preparing to launch a partner programme to support NGOs in other regions to establish permaculture clubs and teacher support networks.
Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme
Founded in 2014, Schools and Colleges Permaculture Programme (SCOPE Kenya), promotes permaculture/agroecology education in schools and communities; nurturing youth in sustainable land-use practices, and enhancing restoration and resilience of the ecosystem for food production, income generation and biodiversity conservation.
SCOPE Kenya uses a holistic development approach, which involves working with pupils, teachers, parents, local leaders and surrounding communities. They redesign and transform degraded land into greener productive landscapes using permaculture and agroecology practices.
- introducing their process in 16 schools
- training 20 field staff and 27 school teachers in permaculture/agroecology
- facilitating the establishment of 12 permaculture model schools to enable them to produce healthy food to support their own feeding programs
- developing an agroecology training guide for use by field staff to nurture young people.
Images by Rosanna Morris