Welcome to the Greenhouse
A PLACE TO ENJOY – ORGANIC, LOCAL AND FAIRTRADE FOOD AND WINE
The Greenhouse contains a café and shop selling organic, local and Fairtrade produce. The stock includes Norfolk’s’ best and most extensive range of fine quality organic and vegan wines, especially biodynamic and low sulphur wines, which are part of our commitment to the celebration of organic agriculture.
The café has a small garden space providing a quiet place where people can meet, eat fresh home-made food and read and relax in a peaceful space (we ask that phones be switched to silent/vibrate whilst you are here). The adjoining bookshop and gallery specialise in quality second-hand books and contemporary art by local artists, poets and writers.
GALLERY EXHIBITIONS – ENVIRONMENTAL ART – CARDS, PRINTS AND PAINTINGS
During 2014 we launched a design competition in collaboration with the regions leading fine art card company, Green Pebble. The winning designs were published in the autumn of last year, in time for a week long exhibition (entitled MELT) at the Forum in Norwich.
The exhibition at the Forum, which is Norwich’s biggest public exhibition space, increased our usual audience ten-fold and helped to significantly raise the profile of the Greenhouse Gallery. The MELT events were give a significant boost by a grant from the Arts Council (England), which funded the publicity and promotion of the work.
The gallery at the Greenhouse is on the first floor of the building, providing a space for exhibitions and workshops which allows the Trust to communicate climate change and sustainable living visually. Events and information are promoted via our website and social media.
With the support of our patron, the Marchioness of Worcester, and local celebrity Stephen Fry we launched an appeal in order to raise income for a new Climate Art Fund. We were also very grateful for the assistance of Rebecca Mayhew from Durrants sales rooms. The Climate Art Fund project aims to provide the Greenhouse Gallery with resources to stage our next climate a number of linked shows across this years Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Open Studios and to stage our next climate-focussed exhibition, ‘RISE’, at the Forum in November (26-29th), timed to occur just before to the climate change negotiations in Paris.
We are delighted that the Norfolk and Norwich Festival advertising for ‘RISE’ has been sponsored by Investing Ethically. Investing Ethically is a local company, and their work is ‘described on the tin’, and amply demonstrated by their generous offer to donate to the Greenhouse 10% of any money invested by future clients (perhaps yourself?).
The next United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference (COP21) will take place in Paris between 30th November and 11th December. The aim of the conference is to agree international commitments to reduce greenhouse gases. With a current global temperature rise of 0.9 degrees Celsius, the world’s climate scientists, represented by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have indicated that heatwaves, sea-level rise, melting ice and extreme weather are already outcomes of global warming, with much worse to come unless there are deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the global financial institutions, including London, are built on coastal plains that will be submerged.
The Greenhouse Trust will be one of the thousands of organisations lobbying for tough, binding targets and promoting solutions. Multi-lateral policy initiatives are not the only mechanism by which policy and actions take root, COP21 provides a major focal point for public engagement. It is too easy to believe that global/international policy issues do not impact our lives and that we have no influence.
The United Nations (UN) has itself warned that elements of big business are intent on undermining the IPCC report, which indicates that the stakes are very high indeed and every policy change, hard won.
COMPANY REPORT – Trading with people – for the future environment and the environment
The Greenhouse Trust owns a trading company (Green City Central Ltd.) which runs the shop and café services on the ground floor. Each sale in the Greenhouse supports organic growers, co-operatives and projects from Norfolk and around the world and helps fund the building and the projects run from the Greenhouse.
Shopping in the Greenhouse affirms commitment to both personal and planetary health. Linking these two is so essential particularly now ‘austerity’ is falsely used to maintain the unsustainable trajectory of unregulated capitalism. Oxfam has published the remarkable calculation that the 85 richest individuals on Earth now control wealth equivalent to that owned by fully half the people on the planets, some 3.5 billion people, many desperate for food, sanitation and other essentials.
As the Nobel Prize winning economist Josef Stiglitz points out, “we must end the privatisation of profit and the transfer of debt onto the public purse”. In the years between 1918 and 1961, the UK national debt was over 100% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Yet, during that period, the state introduced the welfare state, the NHS, state pensions and comprehensive education, built millions of council houses, and nationalised a range of industries, including energy and railways.
Public spending is an investment, not a debt. Sadly the case for austerity is presented as a necessary policy by all the mainstream political parties. As a consequence, organisations such as Oxfam and the Tressel Trust lobby tirelessly to demand economic policy should be focussed on community and equality; the voluntary sector increasingly finds itself picking up the pieces of our broken state.
Here in the UK, food banks are a clear indication of inequality. We thank our customers for helping to supply the St. Stephens church with vegetarian food items, by donating goods via our food bank collection box. Providing this service demonstrates how small shops can better meet the needs of the disadvantaged, socially excluded and elderly, particularly those without limited mobility.
Sir Terry Leahy, ex-CEO of Tesco has declared that the closure of small shops on the high street as “progress”. Clearly it is no such thing. Of every £1 spent in an independent store, over 70 pence remains in the local area and then circulates three to four times in the local economy, compared with only 5 pence spent in supermarkets. Money spent in a multiple or supermarket is simply despatched onwards to other countries, often to avoid tax. The profit from dividends and shares does not circulate in the local economy and, as a consequence, local shops, character and community are destroyed. Ultimately the fate of small shops rests with the commitment of local people to use them. We very much hope you will continue to support the Greenhouse.
THE GREENHOUSE TRUST BUILDING
The Greenhouse is owned by the Greenhouse Trust, an environment education charity which has designed and retrofitted this listed II* building in order to demonstrate how old buildings, built before climate change was understood, can be brought up to the energy and sustainability demands of the 21st century.
The Greenhouse Trust is a member of the UK network of ‘Superhomes’, Superhomes are promoted by the Sustainable Energy Academy (SEA) with the aim of creating a network of buildings across the UK, enabling members of the public to visit examples of energy efficient properties to inspire design and technology solutions locally.
The UK has some of the least efficient housing stock in Europe, exacerbating environmental problems and perpetuating the economic and human misery created by fuel poverty. 27% of UK CO2 emissions are generated as a consequence of heating buildings.
THE NATIONAL PICTURE
In reality, energy prices in the UK are relatively cheap compared to other European countries; our high energy bills stem instead from systemic government failure to deliver an investment strategy that tackles housing need and integrates zero-carbon design into new build or redevelopment. It is widely understood that major investment in home energy efficiency could not only bring down bills and end fuel poverty, but the benefits would also cut an estimated £5 billion from UK energy bills, reduce gas imports by an estimated 25% and create over 100,000 jobs.
The Greenhouse is part of the UK’s Energy Bill Revolution a national lobby network calling for major investment in the UK’s housing/building stock. Whether it is local or central government, the carbon arithmetic is no longer in question, yet as conflicts around fossil fuel supply increases and oil supply descends, unlike the global economic recession (during which trillions in bank notes were printed in order to mitigate the consequences), we won’t be able to ‘print oil’, or hold on to peace in Europe; the reality will be harsh.
Despite cross-party proclamations of ‘Norwich in Transition’ there is no sign of any strategy to decentralise energy away from the ‘big six’ utilities, and the endless list of missed planning opportunities over the last two decades continues to grow. City planners continue to prioritise developments that design-in fossil fuel use, locking house-holds into fuel poverty and increase CO2 emissions. Worse still the ‘Masterplans’ and planning assumptions for the ‘growth’ of the city are not supported by any sustainable/renewable energy design.
It is widely accepted, even by energy companies such as BP that we cannot remove more oil and coal from the ground without taking the world beyond 2 degrees Celsius. We need to divest from the carbon bubble and stop supporting unsustainable fossil fuel industries. This will help create investment in renewables, financed from sources such as pension funds, government and public bonds.
In the words of Julia Davenport, founder of Good Energy:
“We don’t have to do it the same way as we’ve always done it. We can change the way we run our economy; we don’t have to run it the way we’re running it now. One of the biggest changes of a decentralised energy economy is the you wouldn’t have six big powers, you’d have lots of people, and we as a society need to get comfortable with that. My view is that it could happen very fast. It’s not about technology any more. It’s about people”.
The decentralised, ‘point of use’ nature of solar energy (hot water & electricity) cuts large amounts of energy demand from the grid and allows homes to generate and control their own energy use and supply. Solar systems generate electricity at less than half the C02 life-cycle costs for nuclear power. The £240bn pledged in subsidies for new nuclear power stations in the UK is approximately £10,000 for each home in Britain, just imagine what you could do with that level of investment in your own home!
We know how difficult the story of human addiction to fossil fuels is, and the enormity of consequences of a world increasingly unprepared for the crises, but the opportunities are there, if we act now.