Charity grows grassroots gardening business in Sudbury

Charity grows grassroots gardening business in Sudbury

Grow Your Future – Sudbury will be a garden maintenance business offering training and employment opportunities to local unemployed people, while selling services that benefit the community.

Working with local councils, business and social landlords, as well as private clients, it will support Sudbury and surrounding areas to build its community focus and achieve a cleaner, greener, place to live, work and visit.

The proposal, supported by Suffolk County Council and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council, builds on the success of a volunteer project, ‘Grow Your Community – Sudbury’, which has a dedicated volunteer base of around 15 people working in Belle Vue Park each week, as well as community champions on housing estates and in other parks and green spaces.

ActivGardens Development Manager Susannah Robirosa said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to develop our project into a community business that has the power to transform not only Sudbury’s parks and green spaces, but people’s lives too.

“Our volunteers have made a real difference in Belle Vue Park, and we are excited at the prospect of developing our work to train people of all ages in horticulture to form garden maintenance teams.

“Part of what we hope to do is offer help to older people and young families, and others who are struggling with their gardens – teaching them skills and offering low-maintenance solutions so they enjoy their gardens rather than find it overwhelming, and in the worst cases, a threat to their tenancy.

Community businesses are organisations rooted in a local area, run by and answerable to members of the community, and which make a trading profit to re-invest into that community.  In this way, ActivLives is keen for local residents and those involved in supporting people who might benefit from a service in Sudbury to help it shape this community-led approach. It is keen to hear from people who would like to train with the business, as well as from people interested in using the service. It would also like to encourage people to come forward to help steer the business.

Consultation forms are available online or paper copies can be picked up at the Town Council or Sudbury Library. There will be a chance to find out more at ActivLives stand at the Farmers’ Market on Friday 23 March and at the regular market on the afternoon of Thursday 29th March.

This is one of three grants in Sudbury to support the development of community business ideas in the town.

There are thousands of community businesses in the UK doing everything from planning new affordable homes, running community energy and reviving struggling local pubs.

Over the past year, Power to Change has been working with Suffolk County Council and Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Council to unearth budding community business ideas by local people for local people.  These Suffolk Seed Grants will test the viability of the businesses proposed and the benefit they could bring to Sudbury.

Richard Harries, Director, Power to Change Research Institute said: “It’s great to be able to support fledgling community business ideas, many of which just need a bit of help at the start to really take off.  We’re excited to see what local gems are unearthed and to test the benefit they could bring to the local area.”

Cllr Tony Goldson, Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Health & Wellbeing Board Chairman added: “I know there is a wealth of creativity and entrepreneurialism within our communities. Our partnership with Power to Change will enable us to use our local relationships and networks as local councils to identify where the energy and opportunities are in our communities and focus the support that is on offer from Power to Change. I am confident that the partnership will give communities the support and help they need to turn their ambitions into a reality and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.”

Grow Your Future Survey

Grow Your Future Survey

ActivLives has been awarded a Power to Change Suffolk Seed Grant to test the viability of developing a Horticultural Services community business in Sudbury. The business will have clear social objectives and sell services that benefit the community, while providing worthwhile training and employment opportunities.

The proposal for this community business is based upon the existing ‘Grow Your Community Sudbury’ which provides opportunities for local people to get involved in community growing in and around Sudbury. ‘Grow Your Community Sudbury’ is led by ActivLives, in partnership with Suffolk County Council and Babergh District Council and is supported by Sudbury Town Council’s Community Wardens. Find out more about the existing project here:

The proposed community business called Grow Your Future – Sudbury will be offer training and employment opportunities to local unemployed people. Working with local councils, business and social landlords, as well as private clients, it will support Sudbury and surrounding areas to build its community focus and achieve a cleaner, greener, place to live, work and visit. The business will be locally rooted and designed to have broad community impact.

We now need the residents and those involved in supporting people who might benefit from a service in Sudbury to help us shape this community led approach. We hope you will want to get involved and as a starter give a few minutes of your time to complete our survey

Paper copies can be obtained by calling in at the Tourist Office or Library in Sudbury and should be returned to ActivLives, Brightspace, 160 Hadleigh Road, Ipswich IP2 0HH marked to the Attention of Sam Thurlow. Alternatively, take along to Belle Vue Park on Thursdays between 10am and 12 noon and hand to a member of staff.

ActivGardens: Internship position 2018

ActivGardens: Internship position 2018

Closing date: Friday 6th April 2018 Interviews: Tuesday 17th April 2018
Start date: Monday 23rd April 2018


Where you’ll be working : Mainly the People’s Community Garden, Maidenhall Allotments and the CRESS Pavilion, Ipswich, Suffolk IP2 8RE, but also Chantry Walled Garden, Chantry Park, and possibly on outreach projects in and around Ipswich.

About ActivGardens

ActivGardens are lively, inspiring and very busy community sites which support people to lead an active, healthy life, learn and share skills, and contribute to their community. Our projects work with a wide range of people, including long-term unemployed, people experiencing mental ill health, depression and anxiety, people with disabilities, older people, and refugees and asylum seekers.

We run a schools programme working with children of all ages, including those who find it difficult to learn at school. Our core Volunteer Team helps with the day to day maintenance of ActivGardens.

What you’ll be doing :

Main role: Assisting staff to help run our gardens and associated projects.

Your role will involve:

  • Assisting staff in organising and running the day
  • Working alongside the people we support to help them get the most out of their sessions
  • Helping run group sessions, including school groups and groups of young people
  • Gardening/ conservation tasks alongside volunteers
  • Assisting in organising and running monthly community market and café
  • Assisting in planning and preparation for our major event: the Big Garden Party on Saturday 21st July 2018
  • Contributing to development of the gardens and its projects
  • Administration
  • Option to get involved with woodworking/ carpentry, cooking, beekeeping, other specialisms

You will gain skills in:

  • Working with a wide range of people, including people with needs; children and young people; refugees and asylum seekers
  • Public engagement
  • Gardening and horticulture
  • Nature conservation and beekeeping (optional)
  • Events organisation


Training available:

First Aid


The time you need to give:
We are looking for a minimum commitment of 15 hours per week, for a six-month period. The internship will begin the week of 16th April, and finish on Friday 12th October 2018, with the possibility of extension.

The skills you need: We are looking for a team player with a positive, friendly attitude and excellent communication skills, who enjoys working with people of all ages and abilities. We need someone with an active, hands-on approach, with a willingness to tackle a wide range of garden-related and other tasks.  Gardening/ horticultural experience will be an asset, but good organisational skills are as important.

  • Experience of working or volunteering with people with needs is desirable but not essential.
  • Experience of working or volunteering with children and young people is desirable but not essential.
  • Skills associated with woodwork, nature conservation, cooking/ hospitality / catering, community education/ teaching, PR / events, will be an advantage.
  • You may be able to contribute a specialist craft skill (eg flower arranging, art, crafts etc – please let us know!) – we are open to new ideas and projects.

What you’ll get out of it: This position is suitable for someone who enjoys working with people and who has a keen interest in community gardening/ food growing projects and/ or nature conservation. You will gain experience of working in the charity sector as part of a diverse, award-winning community project. The project will contribute to local travel costs.


Contact details:  Please email your CV and covering letter (no more than 2 sides of A4) to Susannah Robirosa, ActivGardens Development Manager, detailing your availability, experience and why you would like to join our project. Alternatively, please post to ActivLives, Brightspace, 160 Hadleigh Road, Ipswich IP2 0HH. If you have any questions, or would like an informal chat about the role, please call Susannah on 07530 407302 or ActivLives 01473 345350.

All applications must be received by Friday 6th April 2018.

Older people carry on gardening with local project 🌺

Older people carry on gardening with local project 🌺

The sessions will take place every Thursday afternoon from 8th March, 2pm to 3.30pm, at Chantry Walled Garden, Chantry Park, Ipswich IP2 0BS.

The site has facilities especially designed to enable older people to carry on gardening, in the lovely surroundings of an historic site. Most of the garden is wheelchair accessible and has raised beds and patio areas to sit and relax.

Gardening, crafts, flower arranging and other activities will be on offer to suit all abilities, led by our staff.

The sessions are part of an ActivLives project, ‘Branching Out – Growing Together’ , funded by a grant over two years from money raised by HealthIntend through the Health Lottery.

It aims to bring older people together to contribute their ideas, volunteer, and learn skills, meet other people and enjoy a chat and cuppa, and relax and enjoy the garden.

Please note – participants must attend with required level of support if necessary.

Please get in touch if you would like to take part – call ActivLives on 01473 345350 or email

Please use public car parks in Chantry Park. For disabled parking – please phone ahead.

We also need volunteers to help with these sessions – please get in touch if you would like to give a little of your time

✿❀✿  Primroses galore for Mother’s Day  ✿❀✿

To mark the launch of “Carry on Gardening” sessions, we are inviting people to come and look around the walled garden with friends or family they care for, to choose a gift for Sunday and find out more about what we offer.

Chantry Walled Garden is open Thursday 8th March from 9.00am to 3.00pm, with the drop-in gardening session starting at 2pm.

Come and admire the mass of colourful primula and other plants, tended by volunteers, which will be in peak condition to plant out in your garden or flower pots.

All proceeds from sales help support our charity.

Access to Chantry Walled Garden is via the path around the outside of the walled garden, turning right outside the visitors’ car park. Please call ActivLives in advance to arrange disabled access 01473 345350. See for details of our location.

Danny’s buzzing to tell you about our bees! 🐝

Danny’s buzzing to tell you about our bees! 🐝

When I joined the ActivGardens Team in April little did I know that I would become a beekeeper as part of my role. What an amazing past six months it has been. To say that I have been totally inspired is an understatement. The fascination and feeling of responsibility towards our colonies is phenomenal and they have become a real part of my world.

I feel very privileged to be working alongside our bees and even more so that I am able to share our wonderful apiary with people from all walks of life from our local community and witness the benefits that it brings.


A huge thank you must go to my wonderful mentor Betsy Reid (I&ES BKA) whose passion for bees just shone through. Betsy’s calm nature, knowledge and delivery style has given me the confidence to really enjoy our bees and hopefully put them in good stead for the coming winter.

So the past six months, where do I start… A steep learning curve comes to mind. I vividly remember being extremely excited to be going to visit our bees for the first time back in April, donning the bee suit, armed with the


smoker, and feeling the bees knees (excuse the pun). I don’t quite know what I was expecting; however, once the lid was lifted and the bees took flight around us, I couldn’t believe the hum and the constant thoughts of whether the bees were flying past my visor, or were they inside. At the end of that session, I remember thinking, how on earth do you remember everything -the things you have to look out for, the things you have to do and record, planning for the next visit and how brave to be holding the frames.

As the weeks went by, it gradually became routine, although still as invigorating; I began to understand bee terminology/jargon and identify what it was I was looking for, it began to make sense, my confidence and knowledge grew, and my mentor never faulted.


It certainly wasn’t plain sailing as we had verroa, wax moth and a multiple swarming hive identified in my first visit followed by laying workers/drone-laying queen, which unfortunately had to come to a sorry end. I also remember the multiple stings I received whilst delivering a session at our Big Garden Party.

Highlights? There are lots: holding a frame covered in bees for the first time, spotting the elusive queen bee, harvesting and sampling the glorious honey, observing people’s reactions whilst offloading wonderful facts about our honey bees, seeing first-hand how our bees have built confidence in so many of our visitors and being successful in placing a queen cell into a nuclei, taking it home to my garden for 6 weeks and forming a new colony.

We have had schools, both primary and secondary, colleges, pupil referral units, prisoners, community groups, corporate groups, individuals from the community, as well as our regular volunteers, visit our apiary, amounting to in excess of 400 visits. Hopefully our apiary will go from strength to strength, and we have some great ideas to further develop our apiary as a ‘CommuniBee’ educational and wellbeing resource.

Other visitors have included David Barnes (DEFRA, National Bee Unit) in June , who reassured us that our bees were in good health and our housekeeping was in order; David also commented on our wonderful setting. Joyce Boorman (Director of Phoenix2 Network CIC) also recently visited us and I am very pleased to say that we now have a copy of the 2 BeePlus Resource CD 2017  that Joyce and her team developed, which we look forward to sharing with our next generation of young beekeepers.

Thanks must go to Betsy Reid and Chris Stevens for their very kind donations of two queen ready colonies to replenish our apiary, which I must say have settled in very well. Also thank you to I&ES BKA for their kind donation of sugar for our bees.

I am quite disappointed that our four hives need to settle down for the winter and that it won’t be quite so hands on (purely very selfish of me as our bees really deserve a rest). However, there is plenty to do behind the scenes, including creating a new shallow pond within the apiary, and work is already under way in creating a wonderful wild flower meadow bordered by a hedge adjacent to our apiary. We also hope to source/develop and share valuable resources for our visitors to engage and enjoy in the New Year, and I can’t wait to attend some local courses to increase my knowledge and hopefully squeeze in a visit to Buzzworks, Hitchin’s Bee Discovery Centre in Hertfordshire.

The future of our apiary is looking very promising and we are now planning our introductory course in Bee-Keeping, led by Betsy Reid, beginning in January. We are also very excited to have just launched our “ActivGardens CommuniBee Hive Sponsorship” aimed at involving local businesses and organisations.

I hope this has given you a brief overview of what our bees are doing for our community and that it is a hive of activity. If you would like further information or believe you could help us in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Danny Thorrington
ActivGardens Coordinator

Give me a BUZZ:
07532 794173

Young people help at first community market of the year

Young people help at first community market of the year

Young people from Chantry Academy will be cooking, baking and helping at the café at the People’s Community Garden’s first produce market of the year on Friday 16th March from 10am to 12.30pm at the CRESS Pavilion, Halifax Road, Ipswich IP2 8RE.

In a new initiative with ActivGardens, part of local charity ActivLives, pupils from three Ipswich schools will learn valuable skills for work and life, as they talk to local people and serve up goodies they have made at school.

The other schools involved are Ipswich Academy, and Stoke High Ormiston Academy – situated close to the People’s Community Garden on Maidenhall Allotments. The three academies will take it in turns to host the CRESS community café at the monthly produce market.

ActivGardens Project Co-ordinator Danny Thorrington said: “We are excited about this new initiative. The young people involved are so enthusiastic, work so hard, and bring such a buzz to this wonderful community initiative.”

Meanwhile, there will be produce freshly picked from the community garden, plot-ready seedlings, and bedding plants to brighten up your garden or windowsill.

ActivSheds will be in full swing – find out more about this great woodworking and construction project, where our volunteers are busy making bird boxes for nesting time.

Maidenhall Residents’ Association will be offering bric-a-brac, handmade cards and household items, while other organisations will be joining in with items for sale and local information.

Come and relax with a cuppa and get to know your neighbours.

There is parking in on site car park and in surrounding roads. The CRESS Pavilion is fully accessible with an accessible toilet.

Future 2018 CRESS markets will be held on FRIDAY 13 April, 11 May, 15 June, July market is replaced by the Big Garden Party on Saturday 21 July, 10 August, 14 September, 5 October – celebrating the wonderful world of fungus! There will be no market in November as we prepare for our Christmas Market (talking about Christmas already!) on Friday 7 December 2018.