Plant education for inner-city people of all ages

by Caroline Pankhurst in London, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 16th December 2020 we successfully raised £781 ( + est. £71.25 Gift Aid ) with 19 supporters in 36 days

To provide botanical education to people of all ages & backgrounds, particularly BAME communities, in our garden in inner-city London.

by Caroline Pankhurst in London, England, United Kingdom


Hello from the South London Botanical Institute 

We were founded in 1910 as a place where people of all backgrounds and levels of experience could learn about plants, from beginners to expert botanists.  Over a hundred years later, amidst worsening environmental crises, the aims of the Institute are more relevant and important than ever.

What do we do? 

Based in the original Institute building in Tulse Hill, South London, we:

  • Provide a wide range of free or low cost events to the public, including fungi identification sessions, plant walks, lectures, botanical surveys, courses and open days.
  • Host around 30 school visits a year in which children learn about the importance of plants to human life - providing us with food, clothing and shelter. Pupils also get the chance to see plants up close by using our microscopes and exploring our botanic garden.
  • House an enormous collection of pressed plants in our historic herbarium that contains over 100,000 dried, pressed specimens of flowering and nonflowering plants. It is one of the most freely accessible herbariums in the country.
  • Visitors can spend time reading about plants in our library;  a comprehensive collection of around 2,000 botanical books which have been lovingly collected over the last hundred years. 
  • Our botanic garden, hidden behind the Institute, has an atmosphere of green profusion. It is approached though a small conservatory which shelters tender plants in winter and houses a collection of carnivorous plants. 

Why we need your support now

Safeguarding our living world is a responsibility that belongs to all of us, and plants are crucial for the future of life on this planet. We want more people, especially those in inner-city areas, to have the opportunity to discover the fascinating world of botany and the interdependence between people and plants. The journey often begins in our own back gardens, with the wild plants that grow between the cracks in the pavement, or with the trees and flowers that are planted on our city streets.

While the Institute building has been closed due to Covid-19, we've continued to run local plant walks, half-term workshops, and garden open days where restrictions allow. We've put more of our talks online, drawing larger audiences than ever, with people joining from all over the world. We've been creating new resources for schools and families so that they can discover nature on their own doorsteps.

What we'll use the money for: 

A year ago we hadn't heard of Zoom and most of our activities took place in the Institute library, herbarium and garden. With your support we can engage more people and have a greater impact, despite the Coronavirus crisis. We're aiming to raise £4,000 in crowd-funding to expand our digital offer and develop professional resources in a greater variety formats, including for those with disabilities and access needs. 

With your help we will:

  • Continue to develop and diversify our online events and workshop programme, including the launch of a new SLBI Youtube channel
  • Develop our online educational resources for use by local schools, including video and audio content to bring the world of plants alive. 
  • Grow our online following and encouraging more people to access our content through social media, our website and e-newsletter

We know that our work makes a difference. Our number of visitors and participants is growing every year and feedback is always positive, with people increasing their skills, knowledge and understanding of plants.

Can you help more people fall in love with the plant world?

Please support us today! Any amount you can offer will make an enormous difference to our crowd-funder.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and sign up to our newsletter via our website or get in touch via email (

With thanks from the SLBI team. 

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