Press Release: Greener Growth at The Tickell Arms

Press Release: Greener Growth at The Tickell Arms

Cambridgeshire pub and restaurant, The Tickell Arms in Whittlesford, has become the very first corporate client of Community Interest Company, Greener Growth. The project centres around making the most of the pub’s beer garden, walled rose garden and pond, all whilst promoting staff well-being.

Greener Growth’s aim is to promote conservation, biodiversity and permaculture but always with a focus on social cohesion. Current projects include working with prisoners and ex-offenders to grow their own food and with school children to re-green outside play areas bringing nature into the school. The organisation also undertakes private garden makeovers with a focus on edible produce and biodiversity.

Greener Growth’s latest project at The Tickell Arms in Whittlesford is the first corporate project to date. Founder, Joannah Metcalfe and her team are transforming the gardens of this much-loved local pub and restaurant with the help of staff who are growing edible produce which is already starting to be prepared by the chefs and served to customers in the restaurant. At the same time Jo holds regular staff well-being sessions which focus on nutrition and stress relief.

Assistant Manager, Jose Carneiro Novaes, described the impact that these sessions has had on his daily life, “The increase in my energy levels was considerable after a chat with Jo - she explained how simple changes in eating and daily habits could give me more energy. The best part of it is that it’s all very simple to do and doesn’t require extra money, just a willingness to change old habits.”

Head Chef Jay Witt told us about the impact the project has had on the kitchen, "Having fresh produce in the garden is brilliant - we use it for salads and special garnishes like sautéed rainbow chard, herbs for the mayonnaise, rhubarb for the duck breast and we have the currants yet to use. Often when we are picking these the customers sitting out in the garden ask us questions about what we are cooking. It's great to have this interaction as normally chefs don’t have this."

Joannah’s approach to well-being is based on a ‘Recovery Through Nature’ ethos. She draws on her 28 years of experience with natural medicine to help people take back control of their own health and well-being, all whilst enjoying the process. Jo explained her perspective on health and nature, “The Natural World can have a profound impact on our well-being. As we see various forms of ill health and “dis-ease” rise – and many in the Developed World ageing prematurely – an increasing number of individuals and the more progressive companies are looking again at preventative healthcare strategies.”

It’s not just staff who are benefiting. The garden project at The Tickell Arms has created a more engaging outside space for customers to enjoy too. The team have installed hand-made bench planters, a natural willow gate separating the garden from the compost area, a fruit cage, bird and bat boxes and even a ‘bug hotel’ - sure to capture children’s imaginations!

The focus of Greener Growth is very much on combating the stresses and strains we put ourselves under in our busy lives, as Joannah explained, “Basic quality of life and health is eroded by long working hours in urban jungles with little or no contact with the outdoors and the natural rhythms of life. At Greener Growth we passionately believe that we can help by working with various communities, at work and at home, to grow food, enhance nature and enjoy wild places and green spaces. As we grow food and conserve wildlife, we help ourselves and each other in a multitude of ways.”

The profit generated from the well-being and gardening project at The Tickell Arms will help support Greener Growth’s work with disadvantaged schools, “We’re currently working with two schools where our work is partially funded, East Point Academy in Lowestoft and Cecil Gowing Infant School in Norwich (with five more in Bury St Edmunds in the pipeline!) The project at The Tickell Arms is helping us raise the funds we need to extend these projects to other disadvantaged schools.”

Jo is hopeful that the project at The Tickell Arms will sow the seeds for bringing her unique marriage of greener spaces and staff well-being to other businesses in East Anglia.

Click here to read The Tickell Arms' case study.

If you feel inspired by some of the work we do, why not get involved? Get in touch via our contact form.

Going back to basics with prisoners

Going back to basics with prisoners

We created courses for our beneficiaries as many of them haven’t had the opportunity to cook fresh food, let alone learn how to budget before. An essential part of our work with prisons is to support new food-growing projects, but it’s also important to teach the prisoners how to cook the food they’ve grown. Knowing how to grow, source, prepare and cook food, so it retains as much nutrition as possible, is such a vital tool that many of us take for granted.

Our courses include top tips such as growing and eating seasonal foods, foraging ideas, and where to find fresh food on a tight budget.

Cooking on a Shoe String

During one of these sessions at HMP Hollesley Bay almost everything we cooked was grown in the prison gardens. In addition we bought 3 chickens from the supermarket; one cheap, one medium-priced and one higher-priced free-range chicken.

The idea was to demonstrate that, although the cheapest might seem the best, when they were all cooked the more expensive represented better value as it did not shrink, was tastier and more filling. Ethics aside, free range animals have so much more exercise that a single chicken would provide you with four meals instead of two! We explained that animals stressed by battery conditions are often fed more chemicals such as antibiotics and they contain more fat having had little or no exercise.

As a group we also discussed the basic dry goods that you should aim to have in your store cupboard, like couscous, brown rice, onions, garlic and soy sauce, so if things get tight towards the end of the week you can still make a meal.

The proof is in the pudding (or the chicken)

The cooking! We looked at what we had in our kitchen store cupboard and on this occasion everyone chose what they wanted to make. We made pizzas, with fresh herb bases adding nutrition as well as taste, chicken and fresh vegetable topping. There was also roast chicken with roasted vegetables, chicken soup and vegetable ratatouille. We then sat together and shared the food we’d made.

Just as we finished clearing up one of the younger men gave us one of the two small pizzas he’d made. He loves pizza. This was his way of saying thank you and it made the entire day even more worthwhile.

Each time we run the course (once a fortnight) we get three or four people knocking on the door, asking if they can be put on the list for next time. It seems to be a valuable and popular initiative at the prison!

If this is something you’d like to get involved with, or you have any other ideas, please do get in touch.