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.
Using half pallets with a low pitched roof, the aim is to attract a variety of bugs and beasties. We start with a strong, stable framework that's no more than a metre high. Old wooden pallets are perfect for a large hotel as they’re sturdy and come with ready-made gaps. . .
1. Broaden your understanding of nature
2. Beneficial insects need love too
Many of your garden’s pollinators are solitary insects like butterflies, moths, ladybugs and solitary bees. These insects do not live in colonies and must find a warm, dry space to build their nests and to hibernate over the winter.
3. Loss of natural habitat
As mankind expands into more and more of the natural spaces these insects call home, they are increasingly at a loss for places to nest and hibernate.
4. Add interest to your garden
5. Provide therapeutic activities for young and old
It was very therapeutic today building our house in beautiful surroundings with Sunny outbreaks. Craig and I both enjoyed the experience, and had a cracking lunch (don’t tell Muddy Jo).
You can tailor your Bug Hotel to suit the type of creatures you wish to attract. . . Using what we have available on site, we used straw, dead wood and bark (lots of drilled holes for bees).
Take your pick;
dead wood and loose bark for creepy crawlies like beetles, centipedes, spiders and woodlice
holes and small tubes (not plastic) for solitary bees made out of bamboo, reeds and drilled logs
larger holes with stones and tiles, which provide the cool, damp conditions frogs and toads like – if you put it in the centre you’ll give them a frost-free place to spend the winter (they’ll help eat slugs)
dry leaves, sticks or straw for ladybirds (they eat aphids) and other beetles and bugs
corrugated cardboard for lacewings (their larvae eat aphids, too)
dry leaves which mimic a natural forest floor
you can even put a hedgehog box into the base of the hotel.
We have built a separate Insect wigwam in the pub grounds with a hedgehog box at the base.
We have also put up bird, bat and owl boxes at The Crown to help our winged friends.
Something else we like to add to these bug homes, is a “green roof”. Typically we’ll use Sedum mat from our suppliers Harrowden Turf
Sedum album, commonly known as white stonecrop, is a creeping, mat-forming, evergreen sedum or stonecrop that is native to Europe. It is also very hardy and low maintenance!
Our UK-grown (Norfolk) sedum matting has a lower carbon footprint than similar products grown overseas and is produced to a very high specification. Enviromat offers a one-stop shop for everything you need to create a living green roof.