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Green Actions

Urban Greening: Sowton

Creating a better place for people and wildlife

A montage of images. Raised beds for vegetables, a new wildlife small pond and re-using pallets to make an insect hotel.

Raised beds for vegetables, a new small wildlife pond and wild flower meadow.

The Environment Agency’s Manley House was a typical low wildlife value office situated in an equally low value Exeter Industrial Estate.


The Greening Sowton project's aim is to help make the office and surrounding land a much better place for people and wildlife and show others what they can realistically do. To do this we bought together people with enthusiasm, skills and most importantly - passion.


We asked staff what they wanted and helped them turn their ideas into action. We recognised that by helping with some of the administrative side of things (e.g arranging funding) it would enable staff to do the activities they are passionate about. By encouraging others to get involved, we’ve seen that staff who previously didn’t know each other now do, and the work has really helped improve wellbeing.

Staff assembled outside the office with litter picking equipment.

The team celebrate a successful litter pick.

To date the project has delivered


Over 100 staff from the office and local community have taken part in activities (including 6 Royal Marines) and are actively connecting with nature and seeing the difference they can make. We are working in partnership with Devon Wildlife Trust and Exeter City Council to come together to make a difference.



A team constructed 4 raised beds and staff are using these to grow their own vegetables. Our Area Leadership got involved and created a herb garden. This helps people recognise just what they can grow at home and help reduce food miles. Sustainability is a key priority and we have reused waste materials from our Flood Management teams to build bug hotels.



We have planted 12 native fruit trees, 550 bulbs and sown 15m2 of wildflower seeds to create a meadow. In all the project has planted over 200 pollinator friendly plants, created a wildlife pond and put up 10 bird boxes. The project has collected a quarter of a tonne of litter from the immediate environment.


There is more to do all of which compliments the YoGA themes. We want to connect with the wider community both on a local and national level to get their ideas and involve them in the work. We are already talking to Greggs the Bakers about how they can adopt our work. We want to help protect our vital water supplies and will be maximising our water collection by installing larger water containers (significantly larger than a standard water butt). We will continue to enhance our local environment and extend our reach out into the Industrial estate and hope to create a green corridor joining up isolated habitats.

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