Article: How Permaculture Impacts Lives In Prisons

Article: How Permaculture Impacts Lives In Prisons

The new winter issue of Permaculture International Magazine has Jo Metcalfe and Greener Growth in a three page feature article. Whoo-hoo!

But you'll have to subscribe to read it!

Raised beds at Westley School

Raised Beds at Westley School

Our founder director Joannah Metcalfe has always employed the values and systems of permaculture.
Whilst this latest set of raised beds do look rather outstanding, and have great value for education, biodiversity as well as being food producing. . . they are also designed with permaculture principles in mind.
Principle 11 to be precise;
'Use edges & value the marginal'
'Don't think you are on the right track just because it's a well-beaten path'
The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
'Transforming the urban edge'

The urban environment is full of edges, each with it’s own unique potential for transformation.

You can see more examples of this on the Permaculture Principles website

Not only can parents, teachers, students and visitors see how nature operates as they walk past - it also prevents those nasty brown patches where everyone cuts the corners! The seats add respite from the heat, allow for social interaction, as well as good access to the beds for those less able to stand. Of course, one of the major advantages of the raised bed is the accessibility for people that can’t reach the ground.

Raised garden beds (also called garden boxes) are great for growing small plots of veggies and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage, and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails.

We have all four corners of the largest green completed, and we are picking red onions, potatoes and herbs already! This is the first corner of the smaller green at Westley with three more to go!

This particular corner has only been possible to install because of the Tesco Bags of Help

We are reliant on funding and grant money to do this valuable work. The whole community at Westley will benefit, and anyone that would like to help can do so here

Stay hydrated and enjoy the sun ☀


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


Find out more by completing our contact form.

So what is permaculture?

So what is permaculture?

You’ll see this word appearing around our website and you’ll often hear us talking about it: permaculture. But what is it exactly and why is it so important to us? According to the dictionary definition permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. But it's much more than that.

The principles of permaculture, when correctly applied, have the potential to guide every aspect of our lives and our communities. Combining a focus on sustainability and self-sufficiency with wisdom, passion and the unity of a community will strengthen those bonds and relationships. Self-sufficiency turns into community sufficiency, people helping one another in their efforts to be conscious of our impact on the environment and focus on sustainability.

Permaculture really describes a process of observing the environment to reconnect with people and nature in practical and pragmatic ways. Most importantly, it enables us to engage with the natural world in rural or urban environments. That is what Greener Growth is all about.

So here are three permaculture ideas you can get started on, without the need for a garden.

Green Roofs

Provided your roof area has a slight pitch for drainage, which most will for rainwater anyway, then you can create a garden roof. Before getting started do make sure your rafters are load-bearing, even for a small amount of soil. Then you can go ahead and create your growing area with battens and edging board, remembering to allow for draining. You’ll need pond membrane on top of the boards before adding a growing medium. For a lighter weight medium mix soil with compost as that’ll ease the load on your roof rafters. The final steps are to plant drought-resistant plants and watch them grow!

Living Balconies

Just as windowsills are great places for growing, so too are balconies. Looking at it as a 3D area, not just the floor space, there is plenty of planting potential. You can grow in containers on the floor, up the walls and even hanging from the ceiling and railings – provided they’re strong enough to support the weight. From blueberries and strawberries to garlic, salads and various mushrooms, there is plenty of choice for growing your own produce on a balcony.

Group Allotments

Tending to an allotment can seem like a big commitment, even half an allotment. Community allotments have come to the rescue of those who want to get involved without having such a big commitment on their hands. They let people share the work and produce of an allotment, with some even adding ponds, compost toilets and washing-up facilities. Some community allotments are even used for educational visits, giving children the chance to see how different ecosystems function and inspiring them to get involved.

Greener Growth Garden Makeovers: The method

Greener Growth Garden Makeovers: The Method

Our garden makeovers are different in that they offer excellent value, enhance biodiversity and are incredibly high yielding as far as produce is concerned, but also low maintenance!

Seeing the potential

Throughout the project we work with and emphasise the excellent principles of permaculture. But firstly we listen to what you want to achieve in your growing space, whatever size it may be. We don’t necessarily call it a garden as not everyone has one, but that shouldn’t stop you developing your growing space. We’ll show you how our Greener Growth Garden Makeovers can help you can grow food and nature almost anywhere.

Once we understand what you’d like us to help you create and achieve, we then map and zone the area. Now this is where the principles of permaculture really come into play. We let nature do the talking and guide us to plan a space that is good for you and your environment. Here are nine things we consider:


Getting down to work

We draw out what we think would work best to help you achieve your goals and maximize the potential of your space. Then it’s your turn. We discuss what you’d like to grow, harvest and eat from your garden, and what wildlife needs your help. Greener Growth doesn’t just turn up, do the job and leave. We prefer to get people as involved with the project as they want to be, teaching them as we ‘work’ together. A garden makeover shouldn’t feel like work though, creating something from ‘nothing’ is so much fun! For families looking to ‘up skill’ getting the children involved is a great idea, helping them take ownership of their space and playing an active role in nature conservation.

When doing a garden makeover we usually create the new infrastructure in the dormant winter months. This isn’t set in stone, but it is easier and less disruptive to pre-existing nature, taking shelter, hibernating or otherwise.

Helping yourself and others

Yes, there is a cost to having a garden makeover, but as a community interest company any profits we make are fed back into our community projects. So while you enjoy a beautiful and productive growing space, you’re also helping disadvantages and less fortunate people in the community. But that doesn’t mean a Greener Growth Garden Makeover is expensive, it’s still less than usual garden makeover designers & landscapers.

Read more about our Greener Growth Garden Makeovers and if you’re interested in our services for your own growing space, simply get in touch here.