To mark 120 years since the publication of Beatrix Potter’s much-loved children’s classic The Tale of Peter Rabbit, publisher Penguin Random House Children’s has today announced a three-year partnership with non-profit garden designers Grow2Know CIC, on behalf of Frederick Warne & Co. (owners of The World of Peter Rabbit).
A pioneering non-profit dedicated to reconnecting people with nature and each other through the creation of community gardens, Grow2Know reclaims blank spaces and transforms them into gardens designed to contribute to local residents’ health, happiness and wellbeing.
The seed for Grow2Know was sown by North Kensington resident Tayshan Hayden-Smith (pictured) in response to the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in 2017, when residents came together to green up spaces in the area to uplift and unify the community through nature – inspiring the creation of the Grenfell Garden of Peace.
The new Grow With Peter Rabbit initiative has been developed by Penguin Random House Children’s in partnership with Grow2Know to bring the benefits of gardening and spending time in nature to as many families as possible. Drawing on Peter Rabbit’s playful nature, as well as his insatiable appetite for vegetables, Grow2Know’s founders – semi-professional footballer, community activist and TV presenter Tayshan Hayden-Smith, garden designer and TV presenter Danny Clarke (aka ‘The Black Gardener’), and Ali Yellop, agriculturist, chef and herbalist – will design and deliver three Peter Rabbit community garden makeovers between now and 2024.
The first Peter Rabbit-inspired garden is currently in development in a disused plot attached to St Clement & St James CE Primary School, Kensington: a school in the heart of the community where Grow2Know was founded, and the borough in which Peter Rabbit’s creator, Beatrix Potter, was born on 28 July 1866. The garden will be unveiled just before the school breaks up for the summer holidays. An illustration showing the design inspiration for the garden, by visual artist Kai McKim, is revealed today.
Interactive areas for children to read, play, grow and learn, inspired by the adventures of Peter Rabbit and friends, have been incorporated into the garden, which can be used by the local community to host workshops and events from this summer onwards.
Members of the public from across the UK will also be encouraged to Grow With Peter Rabbit from home during National Children’s Gardening Week 2022 (28 May to 5 June) when a series of filmed How-To videos, led by Tayshan Hayden-Smith, will be released.
TV presenter and farmer JB Gill will take part in the challenge on his social media, as will married couple Jake and Hannah Graf MBE, named by the Guardian as one of the UK’s most influential LBGTQ couples, who – alongside their current careers and parenting responsibilities – are vocal advocates for the trans community. Along with their families, they will be joining in with the Grow With Peter Rabbit challenge to demonstrate how easy and fun it is to grow your own vegetables at home using simple, upcycled objects and a packet of seeds.
In addition, primary school teachers across the UK will have access to specially created Grow With Peter Rabbit learning resources, meaning multiple opportunities for parents and children to engage with the 120th-anniversary campaign.
Supporters of Grow With Peter Rabbit include garden centre retailer Dobbies and London-based non-profit organisation Octavia.
Dobbies, the official garden centre partner for The World of Peter Rabbit this year, will be donating plants and materials for the school garden in support of the initiative, as well as hosting free Peter Rabbit workshops in stores nationwide.
Octavia, founded by the Victorian philanthropist Octavia Hill to support Londoners of all ages, is providing a contribution towards the build through its Better Lives Community Fund, which supports projects which reduce loneliness and isolation amongst young people in London.