Greener Growth recognised with Suffolk Award for work at Riverwalk School, Bury St Edmunds, during coronavirus

By Sam Walker - [email protected] Published: 15:22, 25 May 2021 | Updated: 15:32, 25 May 2021

A community interest company that rejuvenates neglected areas and makes them ‘biodiversity enhancing’ has been awarded a Suffolk Award for their work at a Bury St Edmunds school over the coronavirus pandemic.

Joannah Metcalfe and Wesley Stanford from Greener Growth met Suffolk’s High Sheriff Edward Creasy and his wife Penny last Friday to be officially handed over the award recognising their work carried out at Riverwalk School since last March, and also their work more broadly across the region.

Joannah said her and her team had been working ‘unremittingly’ over the past year but were shocked to have been recognised with a High Sheriff award.

HIgh Sheriff of Suffolk Edward Creasy presents the Suffolk Award to Joannah Metcalfe from Greener Growth. Picture: Andy Abbott.

“We were completely stunned,” she said. “We used to enter other competitions but we haven’t touched anything for over a year because we have been so busy.

“So to have some recognition that it wasn’t so easy is nice.”

Greener Growth have been working with Riverwalk School for around four years and in that time have set to work building habitat havens, willow plantations and a new pagoda to offer shade and cover for staff and pupils.

Greener Growth have been working with Riverwalk School for four years. Picture: Andy Abbott.

Jan Hatchell, headteacher, said it was the company’s willingness to accommodate the school’s needs that had been such a positive for them though.

“We have been finding ways to develop the outside spaces and Greener Growth have little by little developed things for the children,” she said.

She added: “We know exactly what we need for the children.

“Whatever we feel, they will find a way to do it which is why we’ve stuck with them.”

Jan Hatchell, headteacher at Riverwalk School, with former pupil Sandy Mowat. Picture: Mark Westley.
Jan Hatchell, headteacher at Riverwalk School, with former pupil Sandy Mowat. Picture: Mark Westley.

Edward Creasy, the High Sheriff of Suffolk, said: “Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, Greener Growth has continued working to allow everyone to enjoy the benefits of living in a greener environment, and the wonderful work they have done at the Riverwalk School has been truly inspirational, making a real difference to the pupils’ lives.”

Wildlife mural unveiled at Southgate Community Centre, Bury St Edmunds

 By Sam Walker - [email protected]

A new wildlife mural with the ‘wow’ factor has been unveiled outside a community hub in Bury St Edmunds as part of a £15,000 rejuvenation project.

Members from the local community and councillors Richard Rout and Patrick Chung were on hand last week to officially reveal the new artwork outside the Southgate Community Centre.

Andy Abbott, chairman for the centre, said: “We didn’t see it until it was unveiled and it was a shock. It’s got the wow factor.

Suffolk County Councillor Richard Rout and Cllr Patrick Chung unveiling the new mural at the Southgate Community Centre. Picture: Andy Abbott.

“Children walk past it every day and it’s got the local community talking.

“And it’s only the first phase.”

The completed mural, created by artists Bella Reynolds and Lauren Bonner, is the first in a four-part ‘Environment and Wildlife initiative’ led by the community centre.

The idea for the community centre rejuvenation project came about after a conversation between centre members and Cllr Richard Rout two years ago. Picture: Andy Abbott.
The idea for the community centre rejuvenation project came about after a conversation between centre members and Cllr Richard Rout two years ago. Picture: Andy Abbott.

It is a joint collaboration with Greener Growth, a community interest company that takes neglected areas and makes them food-producing and biodiversity-enhancing.

The four-stage project, which was originally conceived around two years ago and will cost £15,000 in total, will also see a stone table, wildlife haven, stone garden area, and sanctuary garden all put in place.

Once the project is complete, Greener Growth will continue working with residents to maintain and develop the spaces.

Andy said it was hoped the initiative would have a ‘lasting effect and impact on the area for the benefit of the community and local residents’.

Greener Growth now SafeContractor Approved

SafeContractor Approved seal

We are very pleased to announce that Greener Growth CIC has been awarded SafeContractor accreditation from Alcumus for achieving excellence in health and safety in the workplace. Alcumus SafeContractor is a leading third party accreditation scheme which recognises extremely rigorous standards in health and safety management amongst contractors. It is used by thousands of organisations in the UK including SMEs and FTSE 100 companies.

Our Operations Manager Jannine Parry has spearheaded the work to achieve this accreditation which has taken our health and safety policies to the next level. This award demonstrates to our clients our commitment to ethical, safe working conditions and will greatly expand the sites and clients we can work with. Most of all the award shows our team, that we are committed to providing them with a safe and secure working environment.

Well done Jannine and all the team!

Our new brochure

Our new brochure!

Check out our new brochure detailing what we do, when how and where...

Greener Growth Brochure

Working to make housing developments places where wildlife can live too

Working to make housing developments places where wildlife can live too

(Photo above: Craig Lee and Paul Hebditch from Greener Growth check on a wild flower area at Riduna Park business park in Melton Picture: Ross Bentley)

Ross Bentley | East Anglian Times  

An event held in Suffolk this week sought to encourage house builders and construction firms to factor nature into their plans from the start.

Joannah Metcalfe of Greener Growth presenting at Riduna Park Picture: Ross Bentley

For a long time conservationists have pointed to urban sprawl as a key reason why wildlife is in decline.

Often, new housing is built on the edges of towns and villages, destroying valuable fringe habitats, hedges, scrub and copses - replacing it with concrete and tarmac.

And while developers are obliged to conduct ecological surveys and transfer endangered species to other sites, few new developments make any concessions to the insects, birds and reptiles whose space they have taken in terms of leaving green areas or nest boxes for them to use.

But there are signs that politicians and businesses are finally looking at ways to make housing developments more nature friendly.

READ MORE: Using nature's colours to help buildings blend into Suffolk's best landscapes

Wild flower area at Riduna Park in Melton Picture: Ross Bentley

Biodiversity net gain

In March, Chancellor Philip Hammond used his Spring Statement to confirm that government will use the forthcoming Environment Bill to mandate 'biodiversity net gain' - meaning the delivery of much-needed infrastructure and housing should not be at the expense of vital biodiversity.

Expect to hear more of the term 'biodiversity net gain' in future months - a phrase that requires developers to ensure habitats for wildlife are enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were pre-development.

According the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), going forward developers will be required to assess the type of habitat and its condition before submitting plans, and then demonstrate how they are improving biodiversity, such as through the creation of green corridors, planting more trees, or forming local nature spaces.

If this approach is applied with conviction in Suffolk, it could make a big difference.

Wild flower area at Riduna Park in Melton Picture: Ross Bentley

More than 62,000 new homes will be needed in the county in the next 20 years to keep up with demand, according to The State of Suffolk 2019 report produced by public health body Healthy Suffolk earlier this year. And it's not just the houses and apartments that will have an impact - green space will also go under the digger to build the accompanying roads, shops, schools and community buildings required to service this substantial heft of bricks and mortar.

Active conservation

Someone who wants to soften the impact of all this built environment is Joannah Metcalfe, founder of Greener Growth, a community interest company, based near Bury St Edmunds, which uses conservation and gardening projects to teach school children about nature and give prison inmates a sense of purpose and wellbeing.

Latterly, Ms Metcalfe and her team have turned their attention to developers and builders who they want to work with to make housing projects as nature friendly as they can be.

With this in mind, the Greener Growth team hosted an information event at Riduna Park business park in Melton near Woodbridge earlier this week and invited landowners and representatives from councils and construction businesses along to hear their rallying cry and to demonstrate how they can work together to improve conditions for wildlife.

Joannah Metcalfe presenting at Riduna Park Picture: Deborah Watson

"Traditionally wildlife conservation and the construction industries have been typically juxtaposed and disconnected," says Ms Metcalfe.

"If certain forms of wildlife are found on a site, such as great crested newts or species of bat, building can be delayed or halted."

READ MORE: Households who use heating oil should be preparing to transition to biofuel, says industry body


Verbena cluster at Riduna Park

Greener Growth's proposition has a number of strands. One service they are offering is managing land that developers have purchased for housing but that may then sit untouched for years before the heavy plant moves in.

Often, during this time nature takes over but Greener Growth offers to look after this process, so that natural areas have already been designated before building starts.

This, they say, will smooth the planning process.

Ms Metcalfe said much of this cost can be paid for with savings elsewhere. Earth and waste material removal costs - which are not insignificant at £230 per skip - can be much reduced by recycling, using off-cuts of wood and pallets to make bird boxes and bug hotels, and keeping earth on site for nature zones.

Greener Growth also promotes the planting of wild flowers across developments, as seen at Riduna Park where pollinator-friendly verbena and ox-eye daises have been retro-planted in place of architectural grasses "that do virtually nothing for wildlife" said Ms Metcalfe.

One building firm that has already linked up with Greener Growth is Mixbrow Construction from Needham Market. Operations director Stuart Leech said he hoped to " set the company apart" from other building firms by offering a greener proposition when it comes to tendering for contracts.

Stuart Leech of Mixbrow Construction at Riduna Park Picture: Ross Bentley

But, he added: "To really have an impact, we need to get in early with the architects and designers, [who design developments] as getting anything changed after planning permission has been given can be an issue."

Riduna Park Press Release

Riduna Park Press Release

Above: Riduna Park director Katie Emmerson and founder/director of Green Growth Jo Metcalfe

For immediate release 18 July 2019


 Business leaders in construction and land development have been urged to embrace their important role in conservation across Suffolk.

 Landowners, council representatives and housing businesses were among those who attended a special event at Riduna Park, in Melton, to hear a rallying call from CIC Greener Growth.

The event saw Greener Growth’s founder, Joannah Metcalfe, emphasise the need for more knowledge, responsibility and active conservation practices among those developing homes and building projects across Suffolk.

She highlighted the challenges faced by the natural environment throughout the county, and urged company owners to make it part of their project delivery to consider the impact of their work on wildlife in particular.

Greener Growth, which focuses on taking neglected areas and making them both food producing and biodiversity-enhancing, is already working with the owners of Riduna Park, to ensure that birds, bats, insects and woodland areas are preserved through a number of considerate wildlife activities.

Welcoming nearly 30 business representatives to the event, staged in East Suffolk Council’s headquarters, Jo said: “It was our great pleasure to hold this event at Riduna Park in recognition of their commitment to this innovative new type of partnership.

“Traditionally wildlife conservation and the construction industries have been typically juxtaposed and disconnected. If certain forms of wildlife are found on a site, building can be delayed or halted.

“Collaborating with Greener Growth with a series of different initiatives, these industries can turbo-charge their green credentials by honouring the wider environment and work with nature rather than against it. We would like to thank East Suffolk Council for their kind support and enthusiasm for our objectives.”

Those attending the event were encouraged to witness a number of the activities already in place at Riduna Park, and took a tour of the business park to see the stationed bird boxes, insect hotels and bat hides which have been put in place in recent weeks.

Katie Emerson, Project Manager for Riduna Holdings, which owns the park, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Greener Growth, not only because of their community interest ethos, but because of the fascinating education and understanding which the team are able to bring to our business residents around what they can do to help Suffolk’s conservation situation.

“Already, we’ve had a number of companies on the site say that they want to sponsor boxes or other water and wildlife based features which will be springing up across Riduna Park this summer.

“It’s a great collaboration for us, and one which we wanted more construction and development companies to be able to benefit from in a similar way.”

Among those businesses and organisations attending the event were Brightwell Ventures, Suffolk Community Foundation, Mixbrow Construction, Savills, Rose Construction, Norse, Weston Homes, Harrowden Turf, Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Council and Andrew Thompson & Associates, Eco Frenzy, Jordan+Bateman Architects

For more information about the Park and its offering, contact Katie on

01394 799 089 or email [email protected] or [email protected].



Press Contact:

For more details and further interview opportunity, please contact Deborah Watson via email on [email protected] or call 07974 359001.


Images were taken by Riduna Holdings and are the property of Riduna Holdings and are made available for media use by the company for single use.

 About Riduna:

Already home to the headquarters of East Suffolk District Council, several innovative independent businesses, and the artisan coffee house Honey + Harvey, the site has attracted huge interest from companies keen to base themselves in a modern development which has easy access points by rail and road.

Phase Two, which consists of nine offices varying in size from 1,250 sq ft to 7,500 sq ft two-storey options, is now ready for occupation.

The new stage of the business park has been completed with wooden flooring, intuitive heating and air conditioning, shower rooms, and also includes plenty of car parking for staff and visitors.

Data Regulations:
You are receiving this press release as your contact details and publication are featured on freely available media database software, utilised by this agency. Should you not wish to receive communications from us, please contact Deborah Watson on the contact details above.

Background information: Please see the UK State of Nature report which can be found here State of Nature 2016

Greener Growth's Director of Conservation Chris Mahon hosts IUCN Regional Conservation Forum, Europe, North & Central Asia, Rotterdam 2019

Greener Growth's Director of Conservation Chris Mahon hosts IUCN Regional Conservation Forum, Europe, North & Central Asia, Rotterdam 2019 #IUCNRCFRotterdam

Chris Mahon | IUCN-UK

More than 20 IUCN Member organisations and Commission Members from the UK attended the RCF in Rotterdam last week. Despite the sombre findings of the recent IPBES report and against a background of dire and unprecedented degradation of the natural world, the meeting was relatively upbeat. Maybe urgency creates focus, certainly the need for it. And as others elsewhere turned their backs on the European Union, here all participants embraced the opportunity as a means of collaborating to tackle the enormous task ahead of us. Not just Europe either as this event engaged beyond, to non-EU countries in West Europe and in North and Central Asia – from Greenland to the Kamkchatka Peninsula, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. Clearly, we need to work together – better.

Inspiration from many speakers but in particular for me the IUCN Acting Director General, Grethel Aguilar, with a message of hope and greater ambition, and an important question for the IUCN family – are you willing to increase the level of risk?

2020 superyear graphic

2020 will be a ‘superyear’ for nature conservation. Here in Rotterdam was the opportunity to pave the way to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, in June next year, and influence beyond to the 15th Meeting of the CBD COP in Kunming, China, later in 2020, a critical meeting with the goal of putting in place a post-2020 framework for biodiversity protection.

Road to Marseille graphic

A new draft IUCN programme for 2021-24 was analysed with an opportunity for all to input through workshop sessions and considerable guidance from Members was gathered for the next iteration of the draft. There was much emphasis on this being a programme for all involved in IUCN, not just a workplan for the Secretariat. It will engage us all and will rely on Member’s further participation in its delivery, as will the implementation of the many Motions to the Members Assembly coming forward for the next Congress, including several from UK Members.

The logistical organisation of the event by the National Committee for the Netherlands was an exemplar of what can be achieved by a National Committee, working closely with the Regional Office teams in Brussels and Belgrade, the programme was managed efficiently, accommodating over 400 delegates, a wide variety of speakers, workshop sessions, side events, field trips and a reception at the Natural History Museum.

National Committees gathered on the first morning for a well-received workshop session organised by the Working Group for National Committee Development. A presentation later in the programme dealt with the progress being made with forming an Interregional Committee which is close to reaching its goal of achieving 50% approval from Members, though less than half of Members contacted had responded to the consultation survey.

For more details on the activities and the RCF programme go to:  or check out feedback at  #IUCNRCFRotterdam

So, onwards towards the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, 11-19 June 2010, for which plans are well underway, and with a new draft programme for us all to get behind. Act soon to prepare your Motions to the Members Assembly, propose your side events and workshop sessions if you wish to lead them, and get fully engaged in the WCC next year. It’s not likely to be in Europe again for a very long time.

Chris Mahon
Chief Executive, IUCN National Committee UK
Chair, Working Group for National Committee Development Europe, North & Central Asia and IUCN Global Group for National and Regional Committee Development

Work starts at Jankyns Place

Works starts at Jankyns Place

We've started our third social housing project at Jankyns Place, in Bury St. Edmunds.

It's taken us a while to develop this project alongside Julian Support who provide support and care community for the residents. They have been incredibly helpful to work with and supported us as well as the residents in our objective for this work.

This project has been made possible through Metropolitan Thames Valley which provides provides housing at different levels of affordability for people living in London, the South East, East Midlands and East of England.

We are delighted that Metropolitan is funding the whole project for the next year, enabling us to continue working alongside Julian Support to provide our services.

Principlally a sheltered courtyard garden, we have begun work to transform Jankyns Place into a food-producing and conservation space which will include rasied beds, seating areas, bird boxes, bat boxes, insect hotels and food preparation/eating areas.

Thanks again to Metropolitan Thames Valley, Julian Support and all at Jankyns Place.

Paul working his magic up a ladder ... Again.

Help Our Crowd-funding Campaign

Help Our Crowd-funding Campaign!

Calling all those Greener Growth supporters out there and anyone new to our work.

A donation of just £5.00 each will get us off to a great start. It will provide the funds to ensure that a wonderful resource exists for children so that they can share their discoveries, network about nature and conservation, and most importantly, have fun while they do it!

Thank you!

Business park’s new partnership to boost biodiversity

Business park’s new partnership to boost biodiversity | (Above) Katie Emerson, left and Joannah Metcalfe at Riduna Park (photo: Warren Page)

One of Suffolk’s newest business parks is on its way to becoming a welcome natural haven for bats, birds and wildlife, thanks to a special collaboration with a conservation team.

The owners of Riduna Park, at Melton, have announced their unique partnership with Greener Growth, a CIC started five years ago in East Anglia to help transform neglected spaces, improve biodiversity, and bring therapeutic horticulture to individuals in particular need.

A team from the organisation will now be working on site at Riduna Park to create areas of wildflowers and herbs, improve the ecosystem for wildlife, form ideal open spaces for office workers on site to use at lunchtimes, develop plans for raised flowerbeds and a salad vegetable garden, and create a number of hedgehog, bat and bird boxes.

The project will be overseen by Greener Growth’s CEO, Joannah Metcalfe.

She said: “I’m so excited to be starting this relationship with the owners of Riduna Park, because they’re so keen to ensure that their space is an area which protects and encourages wildlife and a stronger ecosystem.

“Our work at Greener Growth started out with the desire to use therapeutic horticulture to teach people in disadvantaged groups about growing food and conserving nature.

“We knew very quickly it was having a profound effect, and so to allow us to continue to fund that work – particularly with schools and similar community groups – we look to partner with corporate organisations, like Riduna, who see benefit in having us do a commercial activity which helps meet their needs and generates a more positive use of their space.”

The Greener Growth team will include highly experienced conservation and horticultural experts, as well as those specialising in construction for outdoor spaces.

Riduna Park’s Project Manager, Katie Emerson, said: “It has always been important to us in the creation of the business park development, that we would be able to find ways of preserving the nature that exists on this site, and that we could continue to provide the kind of spaces where residents in our offices would want to spend a quiet few moments, or take their lunch break.

“Teaming up with Greener Growth is a great fit. We like that as a CIC they have a wider objective around educating people in specific groups and schools through horticultural therapy, but also that they are very understanding of our desire to have a collaboration which can evolve as the site changes.

“Initially, much of the work will revolve around maintenance and preparation, but in the coming months we’re really looking forward to developing some more exciting ideas like a salad vegetable garden – as well as encouraging our office residents to get involved in making or sponsoring their own bird or bat boxes.”

With the first two phases of Riduna Park fully occupied, phase three will now be under way this Spring.

For more information about the Park and its offering, contact Katie on 01394 799 089 or email [email protected] or [email protected]