Grow Green Together Conference 2022

Grow Green Together symposium highlights hope for our environment

Over 75 people from Parish and Town Councils, community groups and businesses gathered together at the Hunsbury Hill Centre on Monday 12th September 2022 to hear from a range of inspiriing speakers giving strong messages about the environment, climage change and the biodiversity crisis.

The keynote speaker Dr Mark Avery (shown left) started with a challenge to those who think it is too late to take action on the climate crisis, saying “If we’re not in the fight, we’ve already lost.”

Dr Janet Jackson from the University of Northampton gave a presentation that was packed with knowledge and insights gained from her years as a university lecturer and working on practical projects in partnership with commercial and government organisations.  This was followed by arboriculturist Russell Horsey, sharing fascinating information about the practicalities of tree-planting and the impact trees can have – who knew, for example, that planting trees along a bus route leads to an increase in the number of people using the buses!

Separating into groups we carried out a Ketso exercise- the results of which have been summarised and will be made into a short report.

The delicious lunch and refreshments were completely in harmony with the theme of the day, as much of the food served had been ‘rescued’ and would otherwise have gone to waste.  After lunch Shena Cooper from Fruitful Abundance talked about the origins of the food, including the meat free balls made from ‘Mooin’ Block’ created by the Curious Vegan based at Syan Farms in Horton.  Amy Cooper from the Stanford Hall Community Supported Agriculture project then spoke enthusiastically about the benefits of growing and eating local produce.

In the afternoon representatives of West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire councils gave updates on what the unitary authorities are doing to achieve the challenging goals they have set for sustainability and net zero. Leader of West Northants Council Jonathan Nunn admitted that the targets are ‘scary’ but stressed that he and the council are fully committed to delivering them.  There were many town and parish councillors in the audience who were very pleased to hear Councillor Nunn say that he is keen for WNC to further increase engagement and communication around sustainability and climate change with parish councils and local residents.  Both Cllr Nunn and Greg Haynes, Climate Change and Sustainability Officer from North Northants Council, also took part in a lively panel Q&A during which the audience took full advantage of the opportunity to ask some challenging questions.

The day ended with two inspirational talks about sustainable food networks, by Rachel Mallows of Made in Northamptonshire and the North Northants Sustainable Food Place, and Lorraine Hirst, who shared details of the West Northants Cooking and Growing fund, supported by WNC.  This initiative will offer grants to community groups to promote healthy eating and cooking skills.

All the slides from the day are available to download:

Dr Janet Jackson - Biodiversity crisis: Seeking solutions and call for community action

Russell Horsey - Urban Forestry: community and council engagement

Cllr Jonathan Nunn - The council and Net Zero Part 1 and Part 2 (this is a large file and has had to be split into 2 parts)

Rachel Mallows - Sustainable food networks and Full Circle

Lorraine HIrst - Grow, Cook, Eat project

Climate change and nature depletion are happening now in the UK. We are rapidly losing our natural habitats, wildlife and biodiversity as well as having an impact on the food we grow and the food chain. Many people are increasingly concerned about what the future will look like. Communities are keen to find out what they can do to start making changes in their area and this conference aims to inspire and educate about the many ways we can all help to make a difference.

The day will be a mixture of inspirational speakers, Q&A sessions and breakout rooms. A range of community groups will showcase their green projects around the site.

Tickets are £25 per person and includes lunch and all refreshments. Places can be booked via our Eventbrite page:

Speakers include:

Dr Mark Avery - Standing up for Nature. A writer, blogger and environmental campaigner

Dr Janet Jackson -  Senior Lecturer in Environmental Ecology and Management at University of Northampton

Russell Horsey - Passionate urban forester and public speaker

We will also have representatives of the two Unitary Councils speaking about their plans for lessening climate change, improving biodiversity and how community groups can work with them to implement their strategies.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided by Fruitful Abundance

The agenda can be downloaded here.