• The John Whitgift Foundation – the charity that has supported Croydon’s community for 425 years – announces its ambition to become the UK’s greenest borough, inspiring over 400,000 Croydon locals to take up gardening in 2021
  • The charity’s ‘Grow with John’ campaign launching today will seed its gardening programme to all ages and backgrounds through a dedicated microsite hosting content for the community, made by the community
  • Residents can order FREE seed-packs to get started on their green-fingered journey via the microsite now, with no better time to transform their garden, porch, or windowsill than while at home
  • Visit the website for more detail at

Wednesday 31 March 2021: Launching ahead of the bumper gardening weekend of the year this Easter, historic Croydon charity the John Whitgift Foundation announces an ambitious gardening project to inspire residents to shrug off winter, dust off the trowels and get green fingered across the borough.

Following a year that has seen restrictions for all ages in the wake of COVID-19, the borough-wide Grow With John plan will see the roll out of thousands of seed packets across schools and care homes. Whether you are nine or ninety, the Foundation is determined to help get their community involved, enabling families and individuals to order their free seeds via the dedicated microsite to get gardening in 2021.

Full of activities designed to inspire creativity with any windowsill, balcony or porch, the Grow With John microsite will be packed with fun, easy and affordable tips and resources for gardeners of all ages and abilities to start their green-fingered journey.All microsite resources have been collected from residents across the Croydon community, with local families, teachers and allotment owners all showing their support by sharing their journey as they get to grips with growing.

Sowing the seeds of the future in schools:

It’s back to school for the borough, and with the benefits of being outdoors well documented as a boost to physical and mental well-being - now more than ever it is crucial for children to reconnect with each other outside. Free seed packs will be distributed across five Croydon schools, utilising the power of plants to rebuild the vital life skills of confidence, resilience, teamwork and communication that have suffered over the lockdown year. 

Green Fingered Grandparents:

Grow With John will partner with the RHS to pilot their Grow Social programme across five care homes in the borough. The initiative, which is designed to help address the subject of loneliness, will aim to bring residents together through growing and sharing gardening memories to help enrich the lives of those who have been most isolated throughout COVID-19.

Catherine Shirley, Head of Marketing and Communications, John Whitgift Foundation, said: “Celebrating 425 years of supporting people of all ages and backgrounds across Croydon, this is the biggest community project in our history and will bring the joy of gardening direct to the heart of our residents. The campaign will work to improve mental health, healthy eating, and sustainable living across the borough, and we can’t wait to paint the town green and see what residents get growing.”

Alana Cama, Schools and Groups Programme Manager at the RHS, said: “The act of growing and coming together over a shared love of plants can have huge benefits on our wellbeing and we’re delighted to be bringing our Grow Social initiative into Croydon care homes this year, at a time where it feels more important than ever. We hope that by working with the residents, we can create something that will support many more care homes across the UK in future.”

Alan Titchmarsh MBE, said:“Gardening is such a life-saver, both for individuals and in communities: it fosters our understanding of the natural world, feeds us and lifts our spirits. Congratulations to the wise people of Croydon on the 'Grow with John' project which is a brilliant idea and one which I hope other schools and communities will learn from. Grow well!”

Bethany Cutter, Teacher KS1 and Outdoor Learning Lead, Oasis Academy Ryelands, said:“Having have spent the majority of last year stuck indoors, the time is long overdue to get a little bit muddy and reconnect with nature. We are thrilled to be involved with the inaugural year of Grow With John and are excited to see what our children will achieve in the coming months.”

Joe Patterson, Home Manager, Whitgift House care home said: “We are constantly on the lookout for new ways to help our residents combat isolation and loneliness, and this year, we have really been put to the test. We have found that getting residents outside into the fresh air and working on tactile gardening projects is invaluable, and the activities that we have lined up will greatly improve our resident’s memory, coordination and social skills. We just can’t wait to get started.”

The year-long Grow with John community gardening campaign is spearheaded by leading local charity the John Whitgift Foundation to mark its historic 425th anniversary. Founded back in 1596 by the Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift to help support people of all backgrounds across Croydon, this initiative will launch one of the most ambitious campaigns to date in the charity’s long history, helping to inspire residents of all ages and abilities to discover the joy of gardening.

Top Tips for Beginners:

Designed to inspire even the most hesitant of horticulturalists to start their gardening journey over the long spring weekend. Roll your sleeves up and get digging with our top tips for the Easter weekend.

  1. Get planning: Whether a balcony or a patio, tabletop or a trellis, build your gardening plan of action to make the most of any space you have.
  2. Spring clean: Clear away the cobwebs of winter and tidy the garden ready for the long growing season ahead. Get those patios, flower beds and borders neat and tidy by hand or with a hoe.
  3. Start sowing: Be it your vegetable patch or some meadow flowers, use the official start of spring to get the whole family sowing seeds into well-drained soil in beds, borders and pots.
  4. Create an Easter egg carton wreath: Get into the holiday spirit by creating a fun and easy Easter wreath with painted cardboard cartons and foliage and flowers directly from the garden.

Croydon residents can sign up to the newsletter now for gardening tips and download their own FREE seed packs via the website

For more details on how to get involved, see: or follow at Twitter @1596Whitgift | Instagram @johnwhitgiftfoundation | Facebook @JohnWhitgiftFoundation 




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Notes to Editors:

About John Whitgift Foundation

John Whitgift Foundation is a leading education and care charity located in Croydon. We support people of all ages and backgrounds, bringing them together to inspire a sense of community in all that we do.

We have a unique history in Croydon thanks to the legacy of our Founder, Archbishop John Whitgift. In 1596, he laid the first two foundation stones of the Hospital of The Holy Trinity. In the same year, just yards down the road, he opened a school. Together, these two buildings would help him realise his founding vision to educate and care for the people of Croydon. This was his legacy. Today, more than 420 years on, he’d take great pride in the charitable work the John Whitgift Foundation carries out in his name. Because while much has changed since 1596, the values John Whitgift stood for then are as relevant today as they ever were; perhaps even more so. Our work covers three core areas:

  • Access to education 

As one of the largest bursary providers in the country, we grant thousands of young people access to an outstanding education at our foundation schools - Old Palace, Trinity, and Whitgift - that many could not otherwise afford. Currently we grant £5.7 million a year in bursaries, and to combine our scholarship awards, 48% of 3,200 students benefit from fee assistance.

  • Care for older people

Through our care homes and services, we give older people a true sense of community, comfort and joy in later life. We currently care for 100 older residents in sheltered living, residential or end of life nursing care and we offer 100 spaces for our 1596 Club day care service. 

  • Supporting Croydon’s carers

We offer advice, information and a support network for Croydon’s carers – providing a welcome break from the isolation and exhaustion they can endure. Our Carers Information Service runs a dedicated Carers Support Centre, a drop in facility to provide practical support to carers, as well as health and wellbeing activities available to an estimated 34,000 carers in Croydon.