Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit inspires garden initiative marking anniversary

Grow With Peter Rabbit will see three community garden makeovers between now and 2024.

13 April 2022

Beatrix Potter’s first book The Tale Of Peter Rabbit has inspired a gardening initiative marking 120 years of the much-loved children’s classic.

Published in 1902, The Tale Of Peter Rabbit tells the story of the mischievous rabbit’s troubles in Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden.

To mark the big anniversary, a not-for-profit campaign has been launched – called Grow With Peter Rabbit – to bring the benefits of gardening and spending time in nature to families across the UK, drawing on the beloved character’s insatiable appetite for vegetables.

Peter Rabbit
The first Peter Rabbit-inspired garden design (Kai McKim/PA)

Potter remains best known for her children’s books featuring animals, but was also a prominent natural scientist and conservationist.

The three-year project is a partnership between Potter’s publisher Penguin Random House Children’s and Grow2Know – a charity set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017.

They will design and develop three Peter Rabbit-inspired community garden makeovers between now and 2024, with the aim of inspiring a new generation to embrace outdoor adventure.

The first will be in a disused plot attached to St Clement & St James CE Primary School in Kensington – near to the Grenfell Tower and in the same borough where Potter was born in 1866.

The location of the remaining sites have not yet been revealed.

Grow2Know founder Tayshan Hayden-Smith said: “We hope to raise awareness of the social, psychological and environmental benefits of gardening and nature, as well as highlighting the need to provide children with the opportunity for nature play from a young age.

Tayshan Hayden-Smith
Grow2Know founder Tayshan Hayden-Smith with his children Luca and Jazz (Pin Pep/PA)

“It’s been inspiring to learn about Beatrix Potter’s work as a passionate conservationist, the legacy of her writing and environmental activism.

“We can’t wait to share the new garden with the local community this summer.”

The garden, which will be unveiled before the school’s summer holidays, will include interactive areas for children to read and play.

Sarah Bouette, headteacher of St Clement & St James CE Primary School, said: “Many of the children in this area do not have gardens at home, so access to green space is of great importance to us.

“We know they flourish when they are outside, and they already take great pleasure in growing vegetables in our edible garden, as well as sharing books in our reading corner.

Peter Rabbit
Happy Birthday Peter Rabbit 120th anniversary banner (Frederick Warne/PA)

“The new Peter Rabbit Garden will offer hope and a sanctuary for children and their families in North Kensington, many of whom have endured so much in the past few years.”

Across the UK, people will be encouraged to join the Grow With Peter Rabbit challenge during National Children’s Gardening Week, growing vegetables at home using upcycled materials and a packet of seeds.

Izzy Richardson, global brands director at Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “As custodians of The World of Peter Rabbit and publisher of Beatrix Potter’s tales, we’re in the unique position of being able to use Beatrix Potter’s timeless stories to effect change and drive positive, social impact.

“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Grow2Know to deliver outdoors spaces to schools in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities and, in turn, inspire young children to enjoy and learn from the benefits of nature.”

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