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.
“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.
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.”
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.”
With the help of the Lottery funded Orchards East project which has given us 36 wonderful heritage fruit trees we were able to get to work at Tollgate Primary School in December.
Our second project at Tollgate Primary, the children thoroughly enjoyed planting the trees and worked very hard to ensure that this was an orchard to be proud of. Indeed, they showed exceptional committment - as did the staff!
Tollgate Primary remains one of our most committed schools in the area and it is a pleasure to help grow food and conserve wildlife on these gorgeous grounds and with such a supportive group of teachers.
Our next project - number 3 on this site - will involve renovating the wildlife pond and putting in hedgehog boxes. Stay tuned!
If you'd like to donate to Greener Growth please visit the donation page and give what you can.
Meantime, we'll leave you with some photos of the children's activities from December.
We all know that being outside, growing fresh fruit and veg and helping nature, is better than being stuck inside, breathing re-circulated air and eating processed food. ‘Greener Growth’ is striving to change the balance − and winning.
I first met Joannah Metcalfe in prison. (That didn’t come out right. Start again.) I first met Joannah Metcalfe in the grounds of an open prison where soon-to-be-released inmates and her organisation Greener Growth were reviving a walled garden. The bountiful borders and plots of flowers and vegetables were firm evidence of the principle of “Recovery Through Nature” – for land and man.
That was the summer of 2014 – the year after Jo started spreading the message about the sense of purpose and achievement gained from growing things and helping wildlife. Today, the figures trip off her tongue.
“Greener Growth has planted over 1,000 Heritage fruit trees since we last met, been involved in the lives of just under 12,000 children, worked with about 2,500 prisoners, put up about 200 birdboxes, 200 batboxes and 30-ish hedgehog boxes.”
Jo definitely doesn’t let the grass grow under her feet. Well, actually, she does – if she can.
Basically, it’s all about people making the world a better place and feeling happier and healthier, in body and soul, through growing food and transforming underused land. Outside spaces are “re-greened” and become great habitats for wildlife.
The focus is on “permaculture” – a chemical-free, self-sustaining, low-impact philosophy – and building a sense of togetherness through shared activity.
Greener Growth is working in three main areas: prisons, schools, and communities.
An example: Wayland jail near Thetford. Work there has turned old buildings and aviary into a potting shed and greenhouse. There are nine large timber-framed raised beds, along with four wildlife ponds, willow boundary fences, arbours, a memorial garden, and more.
By Laura Nolan | Bury Free Press Photo: Cllr Paul Hopfensperger with Paul Hebditch, Project Manager of Greener Growth, and Sam Hardy, Director of Greener Growth along with a couple of local children. PICTURE: Mecha Morton.
New features are being added to a woodland project on Bury St Edmunds’ Howard Estate including a wildlife and nature conservation area.
The St Olaves Woodland was given funding by Councillor Paul Hopfensperger, using his locality budget.
Greener Growth, a community based group that helps people better themselves by growing food and transforming outdoor spaces, is leading the project which is designed to help combat social isolation.
A nature trail is being developed by using Cllr Hopfensperger’s locality budget.
Phase one of the development includes a nature trail through the woods, allowing people to walk through the more dense areas of the woodland easily.
Phase two of the project, which began on Monday, is designed to allow wildlife to flourish in the St Olaves Woodland area by introducing bird, bat and hedgehog boxes, an insect hotel, rustic benches and a woodchip pathway.
Cllr Hopfensperger said: “Phase three includes a classroom in the woods for children to learn about nature, the children will come from Tollgate and Howard Primary and have lessons in here.”
Greener Growth already does similar projects in surrounding primary schools, including Howard Primary.
Sam Hardy, director at Greener Growth, said: “We’re hoping this will bring the area to life.”
Also involved in the project is Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants.
Tollgate Primary School
Tollgate Primary School
This won’t make the front pages, simply because Good News doesn’t sell many newspapers. . .
However, at Greener Growth we like to try and provide some balance in life, as we do in nature!
We approached the Council in June, to ask for help to finish phase 1 of the wildlife gardens and pond area for their large concrete playground.
The application was completed, Joannah Metcalfe presented (beautifully) to the councillors at the recent meeting at the end of July and we started the work today! Hurrah!
We know how much the work is appreciated by the parents, the staff, and the pupils at the school. We are very well supported by the teachers Claire Bates and David Morris. We received a lovely postcard from Claire just after they finished the Summer Term.
Hopefully the children will love the new bird feeder, the bird and bat boxes as well as the extra raised beds and seating areas.
Not only will this produce food, they will massively increase the biodiversity on site, as well as covering up some unsightly and unused drains. . .
A great example of the people in Bury St. Edmunds coming together as a community to support each other!
Phase 2 will be in the Autumn, if we can get more funding- watch this (green) space!”