The Big Sunflower Project 2019 (end of year report)

2019 was the ninth year of The Big Sunflower Project. This year seeds were sent across the UK and to The Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany and sunflowers were also grown in Canada, the USA and Argentina. For the third time the project was joined by people growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and sadly passed away in 2016.  And for the first time sunflowers were grown in Australia, for George who has myotubular myopathy.

Sunflower growing season is now over in the UK but if you are in a part of the world about to get its summer, please consider buying a packet of seeds and growing a sunflower to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, we would love to continue receiving sunflower photos over the winter months.

Sunflowers grown in Harpenden.

The Big Sunflower Project is only possible because of the kindness of the  organisations who support our work with donations, discounts, funding and publicity. Sunflower seeds for The Big Sunflower Project 2019 were provided by Kings Seeds, who provided 300 packets of seeds at a large discount.

Seeds were also donated by people who harvested seeds from sunflowers they grew during the 2018 project – thank you Katrin, Mike and the University of Leicester Social Impact team. In addition the project received a £200 donation from Cheshire West Voluntary Action, a £150 donation from Sanctuary Housing and a donation of stamps from project participant Sue.

The Big Sunflower Project was also recently featured in the Liverpool Echo and we are grateful to Semble and the Liverpool Echo for making this happen.  You can read the article below.

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Project map

This year 300 places were plotted on the project map which can be seen below – click a sunflower to learn more about the people growing sunflowers in that location.

Photos

Over 700 photos were received from 81 participants this year. Every photo received was posted on social media to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. Photos from the 2019 project can be found below.

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Stories

Thank you to every one who shared their story with the project this year.  The new stories can be found below.

Participant stories are incredibly important as they show the reach and impact of the project. If you would like to share your story too, please get in touch.

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Harvesting sunflower seeds

Don’t forget that if you have grown a sunflower this year you can save the seeds for growing next year or you can donate these to the project for others to grow. You can learn how to harvest your sunflower seeds below.

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Make a donation

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 like to donate you can learn more about how to do this below.

The Big Sunflower Project 2020

Preparations are already underway for The Big Sunflower project 2020. This is a milestone year for the project as it will be the tenth year we have grown sunflowers to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy.  You can read below how the project began.

100 packets of seeds have already been donated by Thompson and Morgan and  seeds will shortly be arriving from Tamar Organics and Grow Seed.  Harvested seeds from 2019 project participants are also promised.

We have also been able to obtain discounted postage stamps for 2020.  Stamps are a major expense for the project and if we were say to send seeds to 300 people during the year, at current prices (83p for a large second class stamp) this would cost £249.00. Stamps for the 2020 project have been purchased with a discount of between 8 – 12% so is a massive saving which we will now be able to use elsewhere – thank you to Mike Abram for all his hard work sorting this for the project.

Next year we will once again be joined by our friends Zusammenstark, growing sunflowers for Emil. You can learn more about their involvement on their website below.

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Further information

Further information about the project can be found on here on the project website and on the project social media pages.

Seed distribution for The Big Sunflower Project will begin again in early 2020. An announcement will be made on social media advising when seed applications are once again being accepted.

Amy

Amy took part in The Big Sunflower Project in 2019. Below she writes about her reasons for taking part.

My name is Amy, I am currently studying Digital Photography at University of Chester.  At 16 I was diagnosed with centronuclear myopathy (CNM), Dynamin 2 (DNM2) mutation along with hypermobility.

Sunflower grown by Amy.

I decided to take part in The Big Sunflower Project to be more involved in the community, as it is nice to have people that understand emotions and issues that go along with the condition. The sunflower project seemed like a great, proactive way to raise awareness about the condition that I myself and people I love have (people who I have only been able to meet through online community and pages that have been set up e.g. the sunflower project, CNM and myotubular page).

Documenting my sunflowers growth and creating little updates felt like almost a way to give something back to the amazing people that run the pages, websites and projects for our community. I wanted to take part in The Big Sunflower Project because without these pages I would not have been able to meet so many amazing people around the world and probably would have still felt very isolated and scared by my condition.

NeuroMuscular Centre

The Neuromuscular Centre is the Centre of Excellence for people with neuromuscular conditions. Based in Cheshire the charity supports people across the UK and sometimes further afield, providing physiotherapy, training and employment.  Below Alison Evans from the centre writes about their involvement in The Big Sunflower Project during 2018.

Sunflower

Sunflower fever swept across the NeuroMuscular Centre (NMC) this summer! We have loved having the bright, showy blooms livening up our grounds (and some of our homes too) but, perhaps more importantly, we have greatly enjoyed working with our friends at The Information Point.

Numerous members of staff took on the challenge to grow sunflowers to help raise awareness for centronuclear myopathy and myotubular myopathy. We took over spaces in the NMC garden, the car park, the meadow, the greenhouse and even our Sales Manager’s bedroom, to cultivate our plants and turn our vista sunshine yellow.

Sunflower

As a centre of excellence for people with neuromuscular conditions, we were eager to help The Information Point raise awareness. Like Toni, we believe in the power of community. Everyone can flourish given the correct support and guidance and we think that the sunflowers are a fabulous metaphor for this.

At the NMC, we offer physiotherapy, support, training and employment to people with muscular dystrophy. We believe that peer to peer support is a key part of everyone’s wellbeing and that raising awareness of all neuromuscular conditions is an important baseline.

NMC Design+Print is a graphic design and printing company at the heart of the NMC; predominantly staffed, and managed by, people with MD. We provide a friendly, professional and creative service with a healthy serving of social value! The profits we make go toward the running costs of the NMC, so by working with us you also support the charity.

Sunflower

Together, we want to inspire young people with disabilities, and to encourage our community to be bold and strive for their dreams. We do this by offering graphic design training, numerous creative workshops, work placements and employment opportunities to people with MD, to help them launch themselves into a career in the creative industry or charity sector.

Partnering with The Information Point has allowed us to pool our audiences across a variety of social media platforms to reach a greater number of people affected by the conditions. It has also helped us to improve our gardening skills, learn more about centronuclear and myotubular myopathies (and as a bonus, we learnt the correct spellings!).

Winter is now drawing in but the project isn’t over yet! Many of us are drying our sunflowers to save the seeds for next year.

The NeuroMuscular Centre again took part in The Big Sunflower Project in 2019, this time using their seeds as part of a seed planting workshop held at the centre. The workshop aimed to encourage staff and service users to plant seeds for growing in the centre’s greenhouse, with the plants either being planted out in the grounds of the centre or sold to raise funds for the centre.

Chloe with her tallest sunflower certificate.

Project sunflower seeds were planted during the workshop as part of a community sunflower growing project over the summer months, with people paying £1 for a sunflower seed and a pot to support the work of the centre.

Entrants were encouraged to share photos of their sunflowers and certificates and were awarded for the tallest sunflower but also the sunflower with the most sunflowers. the first sunflower to bloom and the sunflower that flowered in the face of adversity, having tried to grow around the cycle racks at the front of the building.

In September, the centre’s ‘smallest’ tallest sunflower grower was delighted to receive a certificate, together with a prize of garden tools and a packet of seeds, so she could continue gardening.

To learn more about the work of the Neuromuscular Centre and NMC Design and Print, take a look at the short film below.

 

Neuromuscular Centre | NMC Design and Print
NMC Training and Development

Marketfield School

In 2019 The Big Sunflower Project was contacted by Leanne, a Can Do Sport Programme Coordinator at Leonard Cheshire, who was creating an accessible garden and outdoor classroom at Marketfield School in Colchester, as part of a programme called ‘Can Do Sport’, an activity-based skills course for young people aged up to 35 years old with disabilities, mental health issues or long-term health conditions.

Marketfield School courtyard garden

Leanne explained that Can Do Sport is about encouraging young people to become more active and lead healthy lifestyles (gardening included). Participants do 16 hours and when achieving a number of outcomes they can earn a City and Guilds endorsed certificate.

The Marketfield School project was funded by the National Garden Scheme, which each year chooses a number of charities to donate to and Leonard Cheshire had been fortunate to receive some money to create a courtyard garden at the school.

Leanne says ‘The sunflowers were grown  on a windowsill and then planted outside against a sunny wall. It was really nice and everyone gave their sunflower a name. Growing sunflowers for The Big Sunflower Project was a great way for pupils to learn about gardening and also to help raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy.’

Laceymay and boys

Laceymay and her sons took part in The Big Sunflower Project for the first time in 2019. Below she writes about their experience of growing sunflowers.

Sunflower grown by Laceymay and her boys.

So this year was our first year growing sunflowers. We were very lucky to receive some normal and some dwarf sunflower seeds. We got these absolutely free of charge through the post.

Me and my two boys aged 2 1/2 and 1 1/2 took part this year in our back garden. Both my boys seem to love being in the garden and have previously planted other things so I thought this would be perfect.

I let the boys plant their own seeds – they each planted a tall sun flower and I planted a dwarf sunflower so we could see the difference. They were both very excited to see them grow. For the first maybe six to eight weeks we kept them inside, until they were strong enough to go outside, to be replanted into bigger pots to grow and flourish.

The boys watered them daily and once they were outside there was no stopping them. The tall sunflowers flowered first, they were beautiful and the boys were both so pleased because we managed to get them both just over four feet. Not bad for our first attempt.  Then maybe three weeks after the big ones had been harvested and died out, the dwarf opened up and it was stunning.

Not only have these sunflowers been great for me and the boys to get more active outside, they have also brought a lot more wildlife to the garden as well this year, since having the sunflowers we’ve had an increase in the number of butterflies and bees that visit our garden which is lovely to see.

We are very much looking forward to taking part again next year and also getting some others involved with us. Thank you for letting us be a part of this amazing event and I hope we can spread the word and get this recognised.

 

The Big Sunflower Project 2019 (mid year report)

2019 is the ninth year of The Big Sunflower Project. This year seeds have been sent across the UK and to The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Lithuania and Germany. For the third time the project is being joined by people growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and sadly passed away in 2016.  And for the first time sunflowers have been grown in Australia for George who has myotubular myopathy, meaning the project has received some beautiful sunflower photos this year already.

Sunflower grown in Australia.

About The Big Sunflower Project

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.

Planting sunflower seeds.

How the project is funded

The Big Sunflower Project is only possible because of the kindness of those who support our work with donations, discounts and funding. Sunflower seeds for The Big Sunflower Project 2019 have been provided by Kings Seeds, who provided 300 packets of seeds at a large discount. Seeds have also be donated by people who grew sunflowers during the 2018 project and harvested the seeds – thank you Katrin, Mike and the University of Leicester Social Impact team. In addition the project has received a £200 donation from Chester West Voluntary Action.

Project map

283 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.

Resources

Information about how to grow sunflowers can be found on the project website.

And 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.

Newly planted sunflowers,

Make a donation

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.

Sunflowers being planted in Germany.

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.

 

The Big Sunflower Project 2018 (end of year report)

2018 was the eighth year of The Big Sunflower Project. Seeds were sent to places across the UK and people also took part in Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Croatia, the USA, New Zealand and Costa Rica. For the second time the project was also joined by many people growing sunflowers in memory of Emil, who was diagnosed with myotubular myopathy and sadly passed away in 2016. 

Sunflower growing season is now over in the UK but if you have sunflowers waiting to bloom, you can still share your photos. And if you are in a part of the world about to get its summer, please consider buying a packet of seeds and growing a sunflower to raise awareness of centronuclear and myotubular myopathy, it would be lovely to continue receiving sunflower photos over the winter months.

Sunflowers

The Big Sunflower Project is only possible because of the kindness of the organisations who support our work with donations, discounts and funding. Sunflower seeds for The Big Sunflower Project 2018 were provided by the following organisations

Growing sunflowers in Shetland.

Grassroots Giving

The aim of The Big Sunflower Project is to raise awareness of the rare neuromuscular conditions known as centronuclear and myotubular myopathy. The project raises awareness by sending seeds to people who have never heard of the conditions and requesting photos and stories in return, which are posted online, again raising awareness of the conditions.

The Big Sunflower Project recently took part in the Skipton Building Society Grassroots Giving initiative to try and win funds to help with our work. Over 740 applications were received from community groups, clubs and organisations across the UK and we were over the moon to be shortlisted to be one of the groups to win £500.

In order to fairly allocate the 165 pots of money that were up for grabs, the Skipton Building Society asked the public to say who they wanted to receive the funding. 50,000 votes were cast for the shortlisted groups and sadly we did not win. However, if you voted, thank you very much.

The Big Sunflower Project is a non profit group run on a voluntary basis, so funding such as this is crucial to what we do. However we will continue to seek out funding opportunities over the coming months.

Watering sunflowers.

Project map

This year 324 places were plotted on the project map which can be seen below – click a sunflower to learn more about the people growing sunflowers in that location.

​Photos

Over 800 photos were received from 114 participants this year. Photos from the 2018 project can be found below.

Sunflower

Stories

The project website now has a large collection of stories from past participants – if you would like to share your story too, please get in touch.

Sunflower

Make a donation

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 like to donate you can learn more about how to do this below.

Sunflower

Harvesting sunflower seeds

Don’t forget that if you have grown a sunflower this year you can save the seeds for growing next year or you can donate these to the project for others to grow.  You can learn how to harvest sunflower seeds below.

Sunflower

Further information

Further information about the project can be found on here on the project website and on the project social media pages.