Refugee small farmer project wins prize

| 22nd May 2019
Alianza Ceibo
Eleven projects announced as winners of the 2019 Lush Spring Prize for environmental and social regeneration.


The winners of the Lush Spring Prize 2019 were announced as part of a three-day event taking place at Emerson College in East Sussex and at RichMix in London.

The prizes are awarded across four categories: Intentional, Young, Established and Influence; investing more than £200,000 in regenerative work.

Winning projects come from Southern and Eastern Africa, South America and Europe and work in a diverse range of fields including landscape restoration, food and farming, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protecting indigenous rights, empowering women and other marginalised groups.

Regenerative approaches

Projects may have different focuses, but they all take holistic and regenerative approaches to solving the challenges they face, with many being led by members of the communities they are working in. Information about all of the 2019 winners (and the shortlist) can be found here

One winner is YICE Uganda, which ​works with refugees in Bukompe refugee settlement and the neighbouring communities, seeking to provide smallholder farmers with access to regenerative agricultural training and flexible financial services to reduce hunger and poverty.

YICE Uganda has been working in Bukompe refugee settlement to engage the camp’s residents around sustainable farming techniques.

Over 100 women farmers have been trained in Permaculture farming, and 20 Permaculture gardens have been established.

Noah Ssempijja, founder and director of YICE Uganda spoke about why he set up the project: “I was raised by a single mother, also a refugee from Rwanda, and spent the early years of my life in a refugee camp, thus Refugees and women issues are very close to my heart.” YICE Uganda is a winner in the Young category.

Slow water

Another winner, INSO, ​was founded in 1991 to support communities with regenerative social and ecological initiatives in the diverse state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Its flagship ‘Slow Water’ project aims to address the Central Valley’s watershed crisis, where the speed with which water flows impacts on both its communities and its ecosystems.

INSO remains deeply connected to grass-roots culture, while its Oaxacan Water Forum has brought community stakeholders together with NGOs, the private sector, and governmental and academic institutions.

It takes an integrated approach by combining traditional wisdom and community organisation with modern knowledge and techniques.

At its heart is a belief that we should view “nature and society as inseparable”. INSO is a winner in the Established category.

Equitable action 

Warren Brush, Spring Prize Judge, said:  “I am both fortunate and honoured to get to read through all the prize applications from an incredible web of organisations and people who are actively creating a better world that is filled with life-giving purpose, equitability, and right action.

"My only regret was not being able to fund every amazing organisation that applied for these grants from Lush.

"May Lush’s efforts to support resilient social, economical and ecological systems inspire other companies and individuals to generously give to these and other organisation's efforts around the globe that are positively changing the world through regeneration.”

Each year the Spring Prize team struggles to create a shortlist of fifty and select just eleven projects for funding. It has concluded that it should aim to support every application and move away from being a competitive prize. ​

To start this process an additional £20,000 was made available in 2019 in the form of a ‘Judges Award’. This was used to support other shortlisted projects financially or through publicity work.

Rural economy

The Spring Prize judges also wrote a letter of celebration to recognise the valuable work of established organisations such as GRAIN, FERN, Survival International and Navdanya.

Precious Phiri, a Spring Prize judge, said: “The different Spring Prize applications keep reinforcing a need for us to celebrate this fact: ​the change we desire will take many small pockets of intentional groups of people around the world allying with nature to address nature’s complexity and to address the root cause of problems. There’s no one size fits all!”

The first half of 2019’s Spring Prize event took place at Emerson College, which is surrounded by biodynamic and organic farms and demonstrates the regenerative practices embedded in parts of the English rural economy.

The second half was held at RichMix in Shoreditch, an example of how social enterprises can play a role in regenerating social landscapes in urban communities.

The event was designed to give members of winning projects the opportunity to share their stories, expertise and ideas in an inclusive and collaborative environment.

Also attending the event are Spring Prize judges, press and representatives from other organisations – selected for their relevance to the winner’s projects.

Holistic approaches

The Lush Spring Prize was set up to support ‘regenerative’ projects – those which go beyond sustainability by taking holistic approaches to restoring degraded land and communities.

It seeks to support those who are actively involved in restoring all the systems they are part of. By supporting regenerative projects, the Spring Prize hopes to raise the profile of the movement as a whole to inspire more individuals, groups and communities to start the regenerative process.

Now in its third year, the Lush Spring Prize has awarded more than £600,000 to regenerative work and is a joint venture between Lush and Ethical Consumer.

This Author 

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Lush. 

Image: Alianza Ceibo, Lush

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