You might remember that back in September 2021, I introduced you to Connecting the Roots - a Brighton-based environmental charity that Enter Gallery have committed to working with over the next ten years. As a business that deals largely in paper and international deliveries, we keenly feel our responsibility to offset our impact on the planet. Connecting the Roots is helping us to do just that.
As we welcome the new year, I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update on what Enter Gallery’s funding has helped the project to achieve in 2021. I will also be revealing what we have planned for 2022, including a couple of exciting ways that patrons of Enter Gallery will be able to support the project.
A little reminder
First off, let me refresh your memories about the project itself, and how Enter Gallery is involved. We’ve pledged £100,000 over the next 10 years to Connecting the Roots. This money will go towards helping them establish a rewilding Pilot Programme in the Guanacaste Province of Costa Rica - an area ravaged by the effects of cattle farming.
‘Rewilding’ is the process by which an eco-system is restored to its natural state, before it was impacted by human activity. The stats on the impact of rewilding are incredibly motivating, and seem to actually present a viable strategy for reversing climate change. A recent scientific studies found that if 30% of the world’s 30 most important eco-systems are restored by 2030 – the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere could be reduced by 49%. The Guanacaste region has been identified as one of these 30 vital areas, so in what the UN has dubbed the ‘Decade of Eco-system Restoration’, we wanted to be at the forefront of this movement.
2021 saw Enter Gallery’s first donation of £20,000. This went to establishing a rewilding Pilot Programme on a two-hectare plot of land. The last year has been a real learning curve in terms of how to best rewild the land, but the ultimate plan once best practices are established is to roll out the programme to the wider region, helping other landowners to restore their land to its former glory.
What did Connecting the Roots achieve in 2021?
Over the course of 2021, Enter Gallery’s first investment of £20,000 went towards achieving the following:
1 – Building a nursery
£10,000 was spent on building an on-site nursery where all the seeds are cultivated and nurtured until they are big and strong enough to be planted on the land. The nursery was built over a two-month period between May and June 2021 under the guidance of a nursery expert, and is equipped with raised beds and net screens on the ceiling to afford greater control over sun filtration. The team have also created terraces for additional planting.
2 –Tree planting
In 2021, the team also brought in and planted more than 400 trees. Each tree was planted strategically to give them the best chance to grow, but also to achieve the key objectives of the rewilding Pilot Programme – namely, to stabilise previously unstable land, and to help naturally eradicate invasive species which present a threat to the success of the project.
3 – Seed collection and cultivation
One of the major focuses of the project was to collect seeds from native trees and plants found onsite. From the seeds collected in 2021, the team have successfully grown over 500 small plants. These are currently being maintained in the nursery and on the terraces, ready for being planted on the property in May 2022. Out of the 500 trees planted in 2021, only 75% survived. The new saplings will be planted into these empty areas.
4 – Establishing a sustainable water system
The team also completed the installation of the fully-sustainable water system, which is supported by a natural water spring, gravity and direct sunlight. The system is now being successfully used to water the plants both in the nursery, and on our terraces.
5 - Enriching the soil
One of the major learnings of the last year was discovering that the soil onsite is insufficient for the levels of cultivation we wish to achieve. After decades of being drowned in chemicals in the name of flattening forests to create pastures, the soil has been stripped of the nutrients, microbes, insects and earthworms it requires to function healthily. To combat this, the team have sourced high-quality soil from a successful rewilding project in nearby Hojancha. By mixing these natural fertilisers into the earth, the project now has higher-quality soil which has been used successfully to grow everything in the nursery and outside in the terraces.
Looking ahead to 2022…
Alongside the rest of the world, the impact of Covid-19 has caused Connecting the Roots to pause and think about how they want to proceed with the project in 2022, and how they plan to stay true to the value at the heart of the project – education.
In 2022, the plan is to slow things down, giving both the charity and the Pilot Programme time to grow organically, whilst embedding everything they’ve been learning along the way. Much like the restoration of the land in the Guanacaste Province…building something worthwhile takes time. The Connecting the Roots team want to allow space to learn and adapt as they grow. Together, we have the chance to build something that will make a difference, so we want to make sure we do it right.
Here’s a glimpse at what Connecting the Roots has planned for 2022, and how Enter Gallery will continue to be involved…
1 - Establishing Connecting the Roots as an environmental initiative for the arts
In 2022, Connecting the Roots have decided to be more deliberate in the specifics of the charity and who it is for. Given Enter Gallery’s connection to the charity, it makes sense to establish Connecting the Roots as an environmental initiative within the arts industry, helping creative businesses to offset their carbon footprints.
With this in mind, Enter Gallery has a number of fundraising events planned for 2022, designed to raise awareness and funds which will go directly to the Connecting the Roots project.
The first event is a podcast with Irish satirist, musician, podcaster, author, and TV presenter, Blindboy – in which he will interview a very special guest and speak about Enter Gallery’s involvement with Connecting the Roots.
In springtime, we have an online art auction and in-person event planned to raise money specifically for the charity. At time of writing, more than 10 leading contemporary artists have committed to donating or creating special pieces of art to raise funds specifically with the project. If you’d like to receive updates about these events, please sign up to our newsletter.
2 – Prioritising education
In 2022, in addition to the next donation Enter Gallery will be making to Connecting the Roots as part of our £100,000 commitment over 10 years, we will be helping Connecting the Roots to work towards a fundraising target of £50,000. This will help fund two full-time employees to work on the project; one to work on the land, and one eco-professional who specialises in eco-system restoration, whose job will be to work with the on-site team and with the local community and partner organisations to develop a rewilding educational programme, which (when proven) will be rolled out in 2023.
3 – Collaboration
Connecting the Roots was founded on the principles of collaboration and discovery. In 2022, the plan is to welcome people to the project. Whether it’s researchers, students, fellow eco-experts, or members of the local community, the project will be open for day and overnight trips, and the team will be establishing a volunteer programme so that people can stay with the team in Costa Rica for longer periods.
If you’d like to get involved with Connecting the Roots – either over in Costa Rica, or in the UK with the gallery’s fundraising efforts, we’d love to hear from you.