"Anyone for a carrot?"

"Anyone for a carrot?’

Re-greening our prisons from the inside out

insidetime.org | Joannah Metcalfe

Greener Growth is delighted to report that recognition of the impact of spending time outside with our unique therapeutic packages seems to be growing as fast as our gardens this year! So far with the prison estates in the East Anglian & Kent regions and progressing with registered interest at HMP Thameside.

We are being asked to attend more and more meetings with both our normal points of contact – therapeutic units (PIPES and TCs) – but also with Prison Governors themselves. Those with a really progressive approach, such as Sonia Walsh at HMP Wayland near Thetford in Norfolk, and previously Will Styles and now Acting Governor Ruth Stevens at HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshirehave been so impressed with the various impacts of the PIPE Gardens, they want us to help “Re-Green” the rest of the prison’s interiors. It has been a pleasure to discuss such real innovations.

We are now happy to report we have 2 projects growing at HMP Wayland with another 3 planned, 2 at HMP Whitemoor with another 3 in development, and 1 at HMP Swaleside with another about to start.

It is so obviously an effective, relatively low cost, high yielding way to change the “abandon hope all ye who enter” atmosphere of some of our prisons, it is not difficult to see why. Making use of the resources already present in our prison estates, i.e. the space, recycling or re-using materials and any resources already on each site, and helping people to help themselves by planting and growing food whilst creating conservation initiatives. Nature does the rest.

We believe that transforming the look and feel of the gardens whilst growing food, creates a more varied range of results than any other initiatives, as there is such a myriad of different benefits from working outside. There are so many reports coming out now regarding the therapeutic benefits of being outside, connecting with the natural rhythms of Nature, the seasons, that the earth itself improves mental health and general wellbeing. Mentally and emotionally grounding, literally, growing food and encouraging Nature back into urban, concrete environments, encourages us to observe that which is “outside of ourselves”, and within these new points of interest comes a calmer capacity to re-engage with the simpler pleasures of life. Growing fresh, seasonal produce, combined with all the benefits of learning how to cook nutritionally-rich meals, how to share again, all these are such valuable life skills. To see more people within the whole prison community getting outside and working, laughing and growing together is such a pleasure. These are exciting times.

It is not difficult to understand how this re-engagement or learning of new skills helps improve mental health issues, general fitness and wellbeing, helps increase employability and hope for the future. Everyone needs something to look forward to. It is vital for us as a society that people leave their sentence in a better state than when they went in – or more unnecessary suffering (and cost) ensues. So much criminality has its roots in mental health issues, if prisons are only about punishment and not about new beginnings, it is a huge failure and missed opportunity for all of us.

For our team, the constant news on what is wrong with the current prison system just emphasises how many opportunities there are to generate innovative new approaches to get things right. Our 8 years work with residents has such a profound impact, we are passionately dedicated to the need to cover more land with “Greener Growth”, and impact more people within our prison communities, both staff, residents and the wider environment alike.

We have finally managed to access some photographs of one of our smaller prison projects to help demonstrate the visual impact of our work. As you take in the transformation of our “Before and After” shots, imagine how it feels to start working outside in a garden like this when you have been inside for most of your adult life, like many of the men we work with in HMP Whitemoor. Feeling the sun on your face, the grass under your feet, to see birds and butterflies close up again. To pop a fresh pea in your mouth, a strawberry, to pull up carrots you sowed from seed. To watch pond skaters on the surface of the wildlife pond, see and hear a dragonfly humming past.

Currently news around prison is all about creating more prison spaces, about locking more people up. With a high re-offending rate, and so many prisons with low staffing levels and men and women in their cells, unable to attend courses and classes that they need to initiate positive changes, our vote would be focusing on a different path.

Our plea to anyone in a position of authority over our prison estates is help us to help residents help themselves. Transformation does not have to cost the earth, literally or metaphorically. Nature is in a constant state of regeneration and renewal. So our prisons could be too – and we believe engaging our low cost, high yielding systems across the wider community and all the land that it encompasses could hold that profound key. Let’s engage with some down to earth, common sense systems that reverse the trends, take back land and people into productive systems for the benefit of all and let’s do it now.

Anyone for a carrot?

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:    www.iucn.org/rcf_rotterdam2019  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

Maintenance Day At Howards Estate

Maintenance Day At Howards Estate

A few snaps from last May of Muddy Jo and Filthy Fi -- Oops! Flowery Fi -- taking care of the trees at Howards Estate Memorial Orchard.

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!


Jo Metcalfe, of Greener Growth, in praise of our local councillors

Jo Metcalfe, of Greener Growth, in praise of our local councillors

Bury Free Press

(Above) Howard Heritage Memorial Orchard

So this is the week, when we are all voting for our local councillors – those of us that feel so inclined – you might think we would have little to do with politics being an education, conservation and therapeutic horticulture organisation. However, over the last five years we have had an increasing involvement with our local councillors, particularly those in and around Bury St Edmunds.

I must say, in common with many I guess, previous to this I’d never had much regard or paid much attention to this strata of local politics.

Time spent developing local school and community kitchen and wildlife gardens has really changed all that – as many of our local councillors have been involved. I am happy to report myself and the Greener Growth Team count ourselves lucky to know so many we hold in high regard.

We have developed relationships with town, borough and county councillors and, contrary to popular belief, they are a dedicated, committed and caring bunch, often performing a pretty thankless task.

They are the first ‘port of call’ when any of us need help, or something done in our area, whether it be sorting out a pothole, helping their local school, putting a new bin in – or discussing contributory funding for a community kitchen and wildlife garden or the siting of a heritage orchard.

Local councillors know their patch so well, and many of the people in it. They will help direct us if there’s a ‘Green Job’ that needs covering – and often help support the funding of this project through their Locality Budget. For us, that has included a huge range of projects in and around Bury, with a varied range of benefits and impact for the residents in that area and the wildlife we are trying to protect and extend. Examples are far ranging – such as Diane Hind drawing our attention to the wildlife pond that needed renovating at Tollgate Primary School, or the under-utilised area in Horringer Court that we’ve been working with thanks to Richard Rout and the Horringer Court Residents Association. Then there’s Paul Hopfensperger, who introduced us to the Howard Primary School, and the wonderful Ernie Broom and the HEART (Howards Estate Association of Residents and Tenants) team where there is now a heritage orchard (thanks to funds from local funeral business Fulchers) and a conservation and education project in St Olaves woodland.

David Nettleton has helped us begin to grow a kitchen garden on his ward and Robert Everitt has helped our project at Westley School, the list is quite endless. There are many more to name – including Patrick Chung and Anne Williamson helping our work at Riverwalk School – and so many more!

Often our councillors are the first ‘go to’ person when people in their ward are distressed or angry about something – even if it’s outside their jurisdiction or responsibility. We have learnt a great deal from this tenacious bunch – who care deeply about the ward they represent – and the people in it – and are always now our first point of contact when we are asked to help a school or community group with their green space.

This month we are putting together a ‘Diary Of Events’ for small courses at various different sites around Bury, including Horringer Court, The River Linnet, St Olaves Woodland, Jankyns Place (funded by Metropolitan) and various other areas around our increasingly green town. These courses will be centred around food growing, conservation and we hope will help generate more community spirit too.

We will be promoting them in the Bury Free Press over the next few weeks, and we hope you can come along to learn and grow along side our Greener Growth Teams.

You can be sure that your councillors will have had a hand in helping bring these plans to fruition, and will be attending some of the courses alongside those they represent. We take our gardening hats off to you all, and wish you well, with heartfelt thanks for all you do, often quietly in the background, we salute you! Thanks for all your help, knowledge and support over this past year.

Business park’s new partnership to boost biodiversity

Business park’s new partnership to boost biodiversity

suffolkbusiness.co.uk | (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]

What's the beef with eating less meat?

What's the beef with eating less meat?

Pipers Farm