The aim of The Riffa Views Eden Challenge is to inspire the younger generation of Bahrain to engage and interact with their external environment by asking them to design and create artworks and functional models for exhibition at the RVBIGS 2008. It is a way of showing that horticultural learning opportunities are not restricted only to the classroom, they can also be acquired externally; nor are they limited to pure 'gardening', there is scope for scientific, technical and artistic elements to play significant roles as well.
Using a format accepted by The Royal Horticultural Society in the UK and other recognized international bodies and exhibitions, the judges enthusiastically set about their task of identifying the winning entries in categories covering three specific age groups - 'Primary, 10 - 12-years-old'; Intermediate, 13 - 15-years-old'; and 'Secondary, 16 - 18-years-old'.
"We set the children a real challenge through our briefing document and without exception, they exceeded our expectations. It was a real joy and privilege to see the passion and level of involvement the children had put into their entries and to be involved in the judging process,"
commented Chairman of the judges and the latest addition to Riffa Views' Signature Ambassadors, Chris Beardshaw, the award-winning designer and BBC TV presenter.
Joining the UK's 'Flying Gardener' on the judging panel, were Shaikha Munira bint Ahmed Al-Khalifa, Matthew Rushton and Zuhair Hameed Al Dallal.
Shaikha Munira is no stranger to the horticultural activities of Bahrain, having been a member since 1986 and a past Chairperson of the Bahrain Garden Club, a member of the Bahrain Garden Fair Committee and instrumental in the development of BIGS since the show's inception in 2004. She is a keen gardener herself, and sees The Riffa Views Eden Challenge as "...an exciting and different way of getting young people interested in the world of flowers and plants around them."
Matthew Rushton has been in Bahrain since 1998 and is a trained horticulturalist. He came to the island from his native South Africa to work on the Riffa Views Golf course; he now finds himself involved in a range of landscaping projects from palace gardens to polo fields and luxury villas. "Judging The Riffa Views Eden Challenge has been a fascinating process as the overall level of the entries was extremely high, and with each of the entries having their own story to tell, this made it a difficult task to select category winners," he said.
Zuhair Hameed Al Dallal is the Director, Properties & Parks for the Manama Municipality. A trained architect and a keen gardener, Zuhair has worked for the Department for 16 years. He is responsible for all the landscape beautification of Manama's gardens, its parks, the Corniche, municipal properties such as the Central Market and is delighted by the level of support and the wide range of imaginative and innovative ideas that the pupils of Bahrain schools have presented through The Riffa Views Eden Challenge. It will be very interesting to see how they may influence the Bahrain landscape of the future.
According to Chris Beardshaw, the judges were looking for a combination of factors in assessing the entries, "The level of creativity in design and concept, the involvement and interaction of teamwork in reaching a final solution, the quality and scope in presenting that final solution and the practicality of the project as a whole and without exception, our Eden Challenge entrants ticked all the boxes and made our task very difficult."
"Practicality" was a major factor in the judges' minds as the winning entries will all be turned into reality by Riffa Views, who will build and display them on The Riffa Views Eden Challenge stands throughout the RVBIGS 2008. Richard Browning, Chief Executive Officer of Riffa Views, commented, "We are looking to provide something special for both the schools and the visitors to the RVBIGS 08 and to show how the children of Bahrain can develop images and displays which demonstrate a keen level of engagement and understanding of the greater environment that surrounds them. For Riffa Views together with BIGS, it is important that the show's appeal and stature is enhanced and strengthened year on year; we believe that by capturing the enthusiasm of the younger generation, we are expanding the show's 'touch points' and adding to the visitor experience."
All the schools which entered the competition will benefit as Riffa Views will plant a tree of the school's choice not only at their school, but also within a special 'education grove' at Riffa Views Signature Estates. Chris Beardshaw added, "These trees will act as an important symbol and focal point for enhancing the ongoing educational experience and value of The Riffa Views Eden Challenge for each of the schools and the children involved, over and above re-inforcing the appreciation of the environment for all those attending and visiting the Eden Challenge schools."
The winners in the three categories which were judged yesterday will be announced shortly. Entries for the other two categories in The Riffa Views Eden Challenge - the Junior Primary age group between 6 - 9 years old and the Special Needs for all ages up to 18 years old, are to be submitted by 19th February 2008 and the winners announced on the following day, 20th February 2008. The winning entries of these two categories will also be displayed at RVBIGS 2008, with all winners invited to the RVBIGS 2008 Opening Ceremony where they will receive their awards and prizes.
Each of the category winners will receive a monetary award for educational or gardening equipment, with an Overall Winner receiving a further monetary award to assist in the enhancement of that school's educational qualities, gardens and landscapes.
RVBIGS 2008 is title sponsored by Riffa Views and is being organized under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, King of Bahrain and Patron of the Bahrain Garden Club.