Celebrating its third exciting year, the Lush Spring Prize returns with a fund of £200,000, poised to reward standout regeneration initiatives which tackle man-made problems with organic, human-scale solutions.
A flurry of over 250 applications from 68 countries was received, which has now been whittled down to just 50. Climate change, and working towards achieving the UN’s proposed Sustainable Development Goals, were among the more common threads weaving through this year’s tapestry of diverse entries.
The shortlisted projects range from grassroots campaigners and academics to small-scale agro-ecological producers and Indigenous groups. They showcase work that seeks to repair and restore the earth by taking a holistic approach to overcoming environmental, social, and economic problems.
Rewind: what’s regeneration?
Simply put, regeneration is the process of restoring something to its original state or an improved version in a way that ultimately benefits everyone and everything.
“For me regeneration is about ensuring that we are replenishing resources at a rate which is faster than the rate at which we are depleting them,” biomimicry professional and returning Spring Prize judge Gamelihle Sibanda says.
“So in other words we want to ensure we stay within the ecological boundaries, so that we can live in a sustainable way. But going beyond sustainability, regeneration begins to deal with the backlog that has happened in the past, and the damage to the environment and the fractured societies. And begin to heal. Then go beyond the healing process and actually thrive within it, with a positive benefit to the planet.”
The Spring Prize, which is a joint venture between Lush and Ethical Consumer Research Association, seeks to celebrate projects that not only help restore the local environment, but also nurture the wellbeing of all their team members, the community, and the networks they’ve built. By doing so the Prize aims to raise the profile of the movement as a whole to inspire more individuals, groups and communities to start the regenerative process.
“The Spring Prize rewards projects that are challenging social perceptions and working against all odds to actually heal the landscapes they are part of,” Ethical Consumer’s Anna Clayton says. “We can’t have degenerative systems that take more than they can give back.”
And the categories are…
The Lush Spring Prize consists of four categories, with each category rewarding more than one winner.
The Intentional Projects Award celebrates new and refreshing regeneration ideas and startups which are less than a year in the making, offering four prizes of £10,000 to help build a solid foundation. Reflorestar Portugal is one such hopeful contender, which came together after the Portuguese wildfires in 2017, and is now focussed on creating seed banks and a tree nurseries network to enable reforestation projects.
For enterprises that range between one and five years old, the Young Projects Award seeks to help three groups expand and develop with a fund of £20,000 each. One group hoping for success is Uryadi’s Village, a home for orphaned children with permaculture principles at its core.
The Established Projects Award recognises two successful ventures of five years and older that have also inspired people by spreading the message of regeneration, gifting each project £25,000. One shortlister in the running is INUA (Instituto Nova União da Arte), a grassroots project in the East Zone Favela of São Paulo, Brazil. It aims to promote community regeneration through art, culture, environmental education, and the generation of paid work.
The final category is the Influence Award, which presents two organisations with £25,000 each in order to continue their work campaigning or lobbying to influence policy, regulation, or public opinion in support of regeneration.
Capturing the interest of the judges during the shortlist process was the Karambi Group of People with Disabilities, based in Uganda. Created in 1995, the team has created a successful food forest, permaculture gardens, and an irrigation system that is enabling them to produce organic foods in all seasons throughout the year. They also operate skill training and demonstration centres and have scaled down permaculture to primary schools so that young people can learn how to work with nature while producing the needed nutritious foods.
A range of ten prominent folk in the regenerative movement, plus a Lush member of staff and one specially-chosen customer, were asked to join the judging panel and now have the difficult task of narrowing the field from 50 shortlisters to 11 winners.
“I am honoured to take part in the Spring prize,” Julia Wright, Spring Prize judge and Senior Research Fellow in Agroecological Futures at Coventry University says. “Having already been impressed by Lush’s commitment to permaculture and agroecology, and more so by the careful thought that has gone into the design of these prizes and the real impact they will have on the successful projects and organisations.”
Precious Phiri, from Regeneration International who joins Julia as a judge adds: “the Lush Spring Prize is a springboard for a tribe of regenerators, a worthy cause for a worthy case.”
The 11 winners of the Lush Spring Prize 2019 will be revealed at an award ceremony held in London on 22 May, which follows on from a three day skill-sharing event at Emerson College, East Sussex.
If you’re a member of a regeneration project and missed the deadline for this year’s competition, don’t panic! The Lush Spring Prize, which has now become biennial, will be back in 2021. Stay tuned for details!
Find out more about the Lush Spring Prize shortlist
Regeneration illustration by David McMillan