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"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?

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

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!


What's the beef with eating less meat?

What's the beef with eating less meat?

Pipers Farm

Wrongs Covert - Building the Community Kitchen & Wildlife Garden

Wrongs Covert - Building the Community Kitchen & Wildlife Garden

A big thank you to volunteers Bryn, Huw, Robin, Matt and Jo for making such a difference to the work carried out at Wrongs Covert Woodland Restoration Project on Saturday, Jan. 31st.

Last time we were here a variety of orchard trees were planted and its seems, are still doing very well. This time, with Kathy Harris, owner and guardian of the Wrongs there to greet us, we got to work putting together some hefty planters for the community kitchen & wildlife garden.

It was a bitterly cold day and the only way to really keep warm was to keep active! Which means a lot of work was completed. With Robin's super-strong coffee, Jo's tasty home-baked cookies and Kathy's leek & potato soup, we were all suitably fuelled throughout the day. Huw's wife Jo was also eight months pregant but still managed to help out where she could! Impressive!

Then there was Matt who was a human dynamo. As GG co-director Sam Hardy mentions:

"Matt was a great asset, and had really great knowledge on the veggie beds as he has his own burgeoning market garden and tree nursery! I think the award for effort goes to him for cycling an hour in sub-zero temperatures to attend!!"

Volunteer Matt Richards after his bike ride to Wrongs

Thanks go to project manager Craig Lee for driving three hours in poor conditions; having all the right tools in the right place and for fixing the “goose gate” in double quick time.

Everyone put a great shift in today to make some magic happen for Kathy and all her future visitors!"

Below are a selection of photos all of which will eventually be found on the Wrongs Covert website along with a whole lot more. Thanks again to everyone who turned up to help.

A very cold day at the Wrongs kitchen garden before planters are cut and laid. From left: Robin, Jo, Matt, Bryn, Huw, Sam and Craig.
Wood arrives for making planters. They were pretty heavy!
The planters have to be cut to size...
A combination of mitre saw and chain saw to finish off!
Then they have to be measured, placed, screwed together and filled with compost and soil.
Almost all in place. Now they just need screwing and filling with soil and compost
Soil left over from the work carried out on other areas of Wrongs was then "sieved" through a bit of metal mesh to get rid of large stones (nice idea Matt). The soil was then barrowed over to the planters. This was re-using resources on site in keeping with permaculture principles.
All done for the day!
Working at Wrongs Covert wouldn't be complete without visiting "Robert"....

Columnist: My voyage . . . from prison to columnist says Mark Humphries

Columnist: My voyage . . . from prison to columnist says Mark Humphries

Bury Free Press

I am delighted to be asked to write this column for Greener Growth. As regular readers will know Greener Growth are involved in some amazing projects around the local area and further afield. We will use this column to let you all know what is happening at various times in these projects. But first I thought that I had better introduce myself so that you know who it is that puts this together.

I am Mark Humphries and in 1992 I was on a voyage in my career that would take me to some amazing places. This voyage was cut short due to my imprisonment; at this point I don’t want to go into too much detail. What I will tell you was that I committed at least one offence that put people’s lives in danger. I handed myself into the police and admitted the charges straight away. Some years later I found myself back in prison – even though no criminal offences had been committed – and it was here, in 2015, that I met Jo Metcalfe from Greener Growth.

The group were running a project in a local prison. Greener Growth do more than simply teach people to create awesome garden spaces; they show people a whole new way of living alongside your garden. As a former smallholder I wanted to get involved with this group’s project; it would make my time in prison seem a bit more like being at work again. I have to say I enjoyed my whole time I was working on the project.

The project planned and sketched out what the garden was going to look like. We had adopted a piece of land that wasn’t being used. Soon there was a real team effort developing and the one thing that I noticed was the sharing of skills. Many of the men showing each other the skills that they had prior to coming into prison. The roofers and joiners got on with reclaiming a rotting aviary and created a wonderful potting shed; engineering skills and carpenters got on with building and installing the raised beds. I was able to show my peers how to grow food, create compost and the importance of using this natural resource in the raised beds.

I have now retrained as a writer and I have developed new skills that I am putting to great use in a variety of ways: I am writing novels, poetry and articles. I have been commissioned to write a Creative Writing course for men and women in custody, and I am study for a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. So when Greener Growth approached me to help write this column for them I jumped at the chance because it allows me to write, and at the same time to share the news from the projects that this group are helping to deliver.

Greener Growth is growing, says founder/director Jo Metcalfe. As a Community Interest Company focused on therapeutic horticulture, outdoor education and conservation, we helped develop 15 projects last year – which has now grown into 45! Working in East Anglia and Kent for almost 5 years, in schools, prisons and communities, it has been our pleasure to have been developing 7 new partnerships in and around Bury St Edmunds during 2018 so far. The BFP has covered stories around many of these, so we hope you have enjoyed reading about some of the greener growth in your area.

As our delivery in prisons accounts a more unusual element to our work, we thought it would reflect our ethos of creating new opportunities for all, by sharing the writing of our new column with one of our colleagues from our work at one of the local prisons. Mark is an ex-offender who we have known for over 3 years now, from “inside out”, and we are happy to help support his new beginning.

Advice for a greener garden

Advice for a greener garden

Having a day in the garden is one thing, but growing spaces need regular nurturing. It all depends on what you plant, of course! We work with disadvantaged communities to help them establish green areas where they can conserve nature, grow food and protect wildlife. There’s a lot of groundwork involved in our projects, but they run for much longer than that.

We believe looking after your growing space, abiding by the principles of permaculture, is beneficial for people’s wellness, both body and mind. The therapeutic, productive and conservation elements of permaculture are too good to be ignored. To help further promote this, we’ve compiled some insider tips and tricks to help you maintain your growing space. Turn your surroundings into an organic paradise!

10 garden-boosting tips


  1. Planting parsley, dill, fennel and other nectar-producing plants will attract more wildlife to your space like ladybugs.
  2. You ought to water plants in the morning. This will help avoid fungal diseases often spread by high humidity.
  3. In general plants with thinner leaves need more water and those with thicker leaves need less.
  4. An easy way to boost your growing space is companion planting. Pair up plants that balance-out each other’s nutritional needs, so one replenishes what the other takes from the soil.
  5. Help keep pests and disease at bay by rotating your crops.
  6. Plants with longer growing seasons need more compost in the soil to provide more nutrients and organic matter.
  7. Compost is also needed for new beds, plus double digging and soil amendments to get it off to a great start.
  8. If you have some spare compost, don’t let it go to waste. Cover it with tarpaulin to protect the nutrients within.
  9. Making compost tea is a great way to use leftover compost. Mix 50:50 compost to water and let it rest before pouring onto soil around your healthy plants. For smaller seedlings however mix compost and water 1:4.
  10. Acid-loving plants love mulch with coffee grounds


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