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Outside with Lira X Earth Minutes

21, June 2024

Behind the Scenes: Outside with Lira X Earth Minutes

Our Marketing Executive, Ellie, recently travelled to Croydon for the filming of Episode 1 of Outside With Lira, supported by Faith In Nature. This original miniseries is a collaboration between Earth Minutes and urban environmentalist Lira Valencia, AKA ‘Croydon’s David Attenborough’. Here, Ellie gives us the lowdown on her day behind the scenes…

Who is Lira? 

Growing up in flats in South Croydon, Lira Valencia (@outsidewithlira) didn’t have much contact with the natural world – but she did have a budding curiosity for Nature. That curiosity led Lira to study zoology at university and on to her current role as a London Wildlife Trust Ranger at Walthamstow Wetlands. Lira also helps manage the Soul Food Garden, an urban vegetable patch in Croydon, along with founder Marcus and other members of the local community.

Who are Earth Minutes? 

Founded in 2020, Earth Minutes are a youth-led collective of researchers and creatives, who specialise in environmental communications. They work with organisations, charities and businesses (like us!) to help them communicate their environmental research, campaigns and projects. Earth Minutes have collaborated with Lira to produce a 3-part series of short films exploring Nature spaces across London with her local community. The aim of the series is to ‘encourage people to adventure outdoors and reconnect with Nature on their doorstep’. It will explore Lira’s personal connection to Nature and investigate some of the physical and social barriers faced by urban communities when it comes to accessing the natural world.

My Day Behind the Scenes

Contrary to the typical Great British summer weather of grey skies and rain, the sun was shining brightly as I took the train from our base in Manchester to London. After arriving in Euston, I headed south to Croydon and the legendary Soul Food Garden to meet Lira and Emma, Founder and Director of Earth Minutes.

The Soul Food Garden is so lush and green, a real oasis in the city. We even spotted a stunning fox in the undergrowth! The team showed me around and introduced me to Marcus, the founder. Everyone involved is rightfully proud of what they’ve achieved with the space – and I was especially impressed by the amazing treehouse theyve built using recycled and reused materials. My next introduction was to Kamron Roberts, who was going to be taking part in the film with Lira. Kamron is the founder of Offgrid, an initiative all about getting young people from urban areas into Nature.

As Lira and Kamron chatted to each other on camera, I was very lucky to meet Lira’s mum, an inspirational woman who explained the story behind the Soul Food Garden and the impact it has had on her community.

The Soul Food Garden team have transformed an overgrown, neglected outdoor space that had become a hotspot for fly-tipping and crime into a place of natural beauty where residents and friends come together, socialise and grow plants, including wholesome fruit and vegetables that everyone can eat. The area once had the nickname ‘The Dead End’, but Lira, Marcus and the rest of the team prefer to call it ‘The Live End’.

After filming wrapped up, we packed up the cameras and headed straight to beautiful Richmond Park for a refreshing outdoor swim. It was wonderful to be able to experience this wild side of the capital city and be reminded that Nature can be found in the most unexpected places. After a long day, I hopped back on the train to Manchester feeling tired but inspired – and excited to watch the series!

Watch the highlights of Outside With Lira Episode 1 on our Instagram now. The full episode will be on Earth Minutes’ Youtube channel at the end of June.