Following on from the very successful East Midlands Airport Eco-Garden Competition, the airport’s Community Fund has created a special ‘Eco-Garden’ Fund. This fund was initially just for schools but has now been opened up to include charities and not-for-profit community groups. You can bid for up to £10,000 to turn your Eco-Garden dream into a reality. You can find more information about how to apply in the drop-down sections below.

East Midlands Airport is pleased to announce the winners of our 'School Eco-garden Design competition, which took place during the spring and summer of 2022. Around £300,000 was awarded to 26 local schools from the Airport Community Fund to turn the garden designs into a reality. Judges were looking for designs that would have a lasting beneficial impact on wildlife and biodiversity as well as the education and wellbeing of students and the wider school community.

The schools that were awarded funding as part of the 2022 Eco-Garden Competition are:

  • St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy in Alvaston, Derby

  • St Josephs Catholic Primary School in Derby

  • St George's Catholic Voluntary Academy in Littleover, Derby

  • English Martyrs' Catholic Voluntary Academy in Long Eaton

  • St Thomas Catholic Voluntary Academy in Ilkeston

  • Aston on Trent Primary School in South Derbyshire

  • Longdon Park School in Egginton, South Derbyshire

  • Findern Primary School in South Derbyshire

  • St Edward's Catholic Academy in Newhall, Swadlincote

  • Hathern C of E Primary School in Charnwood

  • Wymeswold C of E Primary School in Charnwood

  • Humphrey Perkins School in Barrow upon Soar, Charnwood

  • Kegworth Primary School in North West Leicestershire

  • Diseworth C of E Primary School in North West Leicestershire

  • Long Whatton Primary School in North West Leicestershire

  • Castle Donington College in North West Leicestershire

  • Ashby Willesley Primary School in North West Leicestershire

  • Alderman Pounder Infant and Nursery School in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire

  • The Glapton Academy in Clifton, Nottingham

  • Dovecote Primary and Nursery in Clifton, Nottingham

  • West Bridgford Junior School in Rushcliffe

  • Holy Rosary Catholic Voluntary Academy in Winshill, Burton upon Trent

  • Holy Trinity Primary Church of England School in Burton on Trent

  • Outwoods Primary School in Horninglow, Burton on Trent

  • Burton Fields School in Burton on Trent

  • Blessed Robert Sutton Catholic Voluntary Academy in Burton on Trent

We’re looking for eco-garden designs that incorporate clever and innovative ways to make any space available more environmentally friendly and provide lasting benefit to communities. The guidance below was written with schools in mind but can be adapted to suit community gardens.

You can consider:

  • A garden that uses materials that are sustainably sourced.

  • Create or improve a forest school or outdoor space which can provide a beneficial learning experience for young people and improve wellbeing. Please see our Guidance to Outdoor Classrooms.

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

  • 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.

Bids will be judged against 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 or not-for-profit community group or charity within the East Midlands Airport Community Fund’s ‘area of benefit’ can submit a bid to the EMA Eco-Garden Fund. Please see a map of our area of benefit with eligible post codes.

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:

A total of £150,000 has been made available from the EMA Community Fund for the EMA Eco-Garden Fund. The funding opportunity will remain open until the fund is fully spent.

Applications will be assessed by members of the East Midlands Airport Community Fund Committee and you must submit your application by any of the following Community Fund deadline dates. Should the fund be fully allocated before any of the listed deadline dates then subsequent deadline dates will be cancelled.

  • 18 October 2023 (for the committee meeting 01 November 2023)

  • 03 January 2024 (for the committee meeting 17 January 2024)

  • 21 February 2024 (for the committee meeting 06 March 2024)

When you are ready to apply, please first register here using our Application Form.

Once you have registered via the link above, please email your written submission, which should be in PDF format and no longer than 1000 words. Your application can be supplemented by drawings, sketches and photographs but these must all be included on your one single PDF application document. Please send this to community@eastmidlandsairport.com by the relevant deadline date.

Only the information included on the PDF document will be considered in the judging of your submission so please ensure you have addressed all the elements of your submission.

 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 children and the wider community 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. If you are a school please show how your garden will be used on a day-to-day basis and embedded into children’s ongoing learning.

 5. Please include an outline of your budget and cost estimates, including wherever possible quotes for items you wish to purchase as part of the project. 

6. If you are not a school, please provide your organisation's constitution and most recent annual financial records such as a treasurer's report.

If you would like more guidance, please see our handy Application Checklistand Terms and Conditions.

please note that these were created for schools but can be adapted if you are a community organisation or charity.