EMA SCHOOL ECO-GARDEN COMPETITION

East Midlands Airport is encouraging local schools to participate in an eco-garden design competition. The schools whose designs are judged to have the most beneficial impact will be awarded funds of up to £20,000 from the airport’s Community Fund to turn their winning designs into a reality.

The competition has now closed and winners will be announced by 30th June 2022.

Schools have the opportunity to win cash prizes ranging from £5,000 to £20,000 to construct their gardens.

We’re looking for eco-garden designs that incorporate clever and innovative ways to make any space schools have available more environmentally friendly and provide lasting benefit to school communities. 

Thing you can consider including are:

  • A garden that can adapt to a changing climate. Children could research areas of the world which already experience weather similar to what we expect in the UK, what plants grow there, and look at introducing plant types that are more resilient to higher temperatures, more intense rainfall, creating shade, and help prevent flooding.

  • A garden that uses materials that are sustainably sourced.

  • How gardens might improve biodiversity and wildlife, for example using plants that attract pollinators.

  • Create or improve a forest school or outdoor classroom which can provide a beneficial learning experience for young people and improve wellbeing.

  • Greening a small or previously urban space including creating vertical gardens.

The judging criteria – please meet at least 6 of these:

Entries will be judged against these criteria. Judges will also recognise the applications that they think have done particularly well against each of these criteria.

  1. Creative design - clever, innovative design

  2. Fun and inspiring - making protecting the environment and improving biodiversity fun and engaging

  3. Making best use of available space – designing a garden which uses whatever space you have. 

  4. Climate positive – considering what climate change means in our places, leaving a positive footprint.  This could include climate change (considering the impact of future climate change on choices of plant, water runoff and water harvesting etc) and carbon footprint (how this has influenced the design and choice of materials such as peat-free, quality long lasting materials, locally sourced)

  5. Championing biodiversity - designing with a positive impact on biodiversity.

  6. Welcoming wildlife – considering how wildlife can use your garden, and what this means.

  7. Leaving a legacy – designing a space that will benefit tomorrow’s students.

  8. Student impact – demonstrating the involvement of and educational benefit of students in designing their eco-garden and preparing the submission.

  9. Wellbeing - demonstrating that the design will have a positive impact on the wellbeing of those using the space.

  10. Community impact – delivering meaningful impact for the school, and potentially wider, community. The school community could include pupils and staff as well as their family members, local groups and clubs, and could also include those that live or work around or near the school.

Any school within the East Midlands Airport Community Fund’s ‘area of benefit’ can take part in the competition. Please see a map of our area of benefit with eligible post codes.

Our judging panel includes:

  • Members of our independent Airport Community Fund Committee

  • Diane Gould, Wilder Engagement Team Leader, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

  • Chris Worman, Parks and Green Spaces Manager, South Derbyshire District Council

  • Kate Allies, Environmental Engagement Manager, South Derbyshire District Council

  • Clare James, EMA Managing Director

  • Adam Freeman, MAG Head of ESG and Environmental Strategy

  • Martin Churley, MAG Group Environment & Energy Manager

  • Harena Saini, EMA Environmental and Utilities Manager

  • Joanna Wood, EMA Education Coordinator

We have created some short films for inspiration, which include an 'introduction to our competition', more information about 'what we're looking for' as well as 'top tips for designing a garden' which includes common sense tips, information about climate change, biodiversity, and the benefits of green space to health and wellbeing

Links to resources from our partner, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust:

Also try:

If you are working on your submission, you can let us know your intention to apply by registering your interest.

When you are ready to apply, please click on our Application Form.

We can only accept one application per school. You can submit your application at any time between 28th March and 27th May 2022.  You can only apply once, and we will only accept your first application.

Your written submission should be no longer than 1000 words, and can be supplemented by drawings, sketches and photographs.

We also would like to see a short video of no more than 3 minutes summarising your eco-garden proposal and the benefits it will bring, which should be presented by your school children. The school children should tell us what they’ve learned as part of the process.

Your application needs to demonstrate:

  1. How your proposed garden enriches the environment and improves biodiversity. To evaluate this, we want to see a ‘baseline audit’ of what you currently have and then a summary of how your garden could improve this.

  2. How this process has helped to teach, engage and inspire your pupils to think about the natural world, climate change, sustainability and the importance of biodiversity.

  3. That your garden could leave a lasting legacy for future generations and the wider community to enjoy.

  4. How your garden will be used on a day-to-day basis and embedded into children’s ongoing learning.

  5. Why money is needed and what it will spent on to deliver your garden

If you would like more guidance, please see our handy Application Checklist.

Please see our Terms and Conditions.

The application form will allow you to upload one single PDF document along with one supporting video. Only the information included on the PDF document and video will be considered in the judging of your submission so please ensure you address all the elements of your submission within these two uploads.  Please ensure that you use your school’s name at the start of the file name of both your uploaded files.

You can contact us on community@eastmidlandsairport.com if you have any questions about the competition, but we will not accept any submissions via this email address.