How our district is tackling climate change


See how local businesses are tackling climate change.

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Coxs at Spencers Farm Shop

Coxs at Spencers Farm Shop has been serving its local community for more than 20 years. Just outside of Wickham St Paul, surrounded by rolling green fields, the shop is located on the farm itself, meaning much of the fruit and veg’s food miles can be measured in metres!

Plums, apples, pears, strawberries, cherries and asparagus are all grown in the neighbouring fields. Sweet and savoury baked goods are made fresh on site, and the shop also stocks products from other local bakers. Meat is delivered daily from a butcher just over the border in Suffolk. The alcohol sold in the shop is produced within Suffolk or Essex.

The Cox family took over management of the shop and its on-site Carters Café in 2020, hot on the heels of the Covid 19 lockdowns. This was not a move for the faint-hearted, as the pandemic meant the café could not open for months. Undeterred, the Cox family overhauled the shop, giving it a refit and new look to match its new managers.

They introduced regular events, including an ice-skating rink last winter, a pumpkin patch, baby showers and birthday parties. There will be an Easter egg trail this weekend. At the back of the café, customers can sit outside and enjoy the views over the farm – or play a round of crazy golf!

But with more than 30 years’ experience as greengrocers, the Coxes focused most of their attention on their area of expertise - and it shows. Colourful boxes bursting with fresh produce greet shoppers as they walk in, and Fred Cox, site manager, says that fruit and veg remain the big draw for most of their loyal customers.

Find out more about the farm shop and its café.


Picture of Spencers sign

Spencers fruit and veg

Blackwells Farm Shop

Shoppers looking for high quality local produce in the district know about Blackwells farm shop. The big blue sign tempting drivers to turn off Colne Road is hard to miss. But what many don’t know is that this local gem is so much more than a farm shop.

For four generations, the Blackwell family has worked on the land at Herons Farm, using traditional slow-farming methods to rear geese, chickens and turkeys from as young as one day old.

The Blackwell family vision does not end there. A commitment to supporting the local community is at the heart of everything this farm does. Other meat, fresh fruit and veg, bread, sweets and even alcohol are sourced locally; an impressive 90% of everything sold comes from within a 30-mile radius. Shoppers can see at a glance exactly where their meat is from, with a sign on the counter that is updated weekly.

Behind the shop is the real engine house of the business: eighteen butchers – also locally sourced! – prepare meat for customers and clients throughout the night. Keeping the art of butchery alive is another Blackwell family passion and their workers range from 17 to 74 years old, with young trainees learning on the job alongside seasoned professionals.

Creativity runs through everything the business does; butchers in the shop keep the counter interesting with their own inspirations, which change with the seasons. At the time of our visit, there were Six Nations themed sausages and Valentine’s Day 3-course dinner boxes.

A few feet away is a bustling kitchen staffed with chefs and bakers, who use Blackwells produce to create ready-to-cook meals for the farm shop, as well as catering for weddings, private parties and other occasions. Dishes available in the fridges include traditional fare such as meaty pies, as well as more exotic food, like beef satay or Moroccan lamb stew.

Interested to learn more about this family business? Visit the Blackwells website.


Olivers Plants, Earls Colne

Oliver Wass, the owner of Oliver’s Plants in Earls Colne, has introduced some fantastic sustainable measures and is determined to protect the planet for generations to come.

Putting climate change at the forefront of his business plan, Oliver is constantly looking to reduce, reuse and recycle - from rainwater harvesting, to using LED computer-controlled coloured lighting to bring on seedlings, using technology to calculate the perfect spectrum of light needed based on the height and type of plant to reduce wasted energy.

Find out more, visit Olivers Plants website.

Building empathy for people and the planet

Imagine visiting parts of the world to witness the impact of climate change on real people and communities, that is exactly what Rajeev Rajam is trying to achieve with his business Globe from Home.

Globe From Home is a company that is making world travel-based learning accessible to schools and organisations through live, interactive, virtual sessions.

Rajeev who lives in Witham and started his original business in the district has now introduced an exciting climate education program that enables learners to travel to different countries to witness the impact of climate change. Learners can also discover solutions in sustainability from the world's leading experts.

Learners gain immersive and active learning as they get to interact with local communities in countries they travel to and ask the climate experts questions in real time.

Rajeev said: “Our unique selling point is that we are the world’s first company to offer climate education that takes learners to different parts of the world in real time to witness the impact of climate change, interact with impacted communities and learn about solutions in sustainability from the world’s leading experts and scientists. Unlike conventional climate education, ours is designed to evoke empathy for people and the planet leading to changes in learner’s personal behaviours leading to tangible reduction in CO2.

“Research from San Jose State University reveals that if only 16 per cent of high school students in the global north were to be climate educated this could lead to a 19 gigatonne reduction in CO2 emissions. This makes climate education one of the most powerful mitigation strategies.”

Find out more on Globe from home. 


Building empathy for people and the planet

We are helping build

Naturally Unwrapped

Amanda’s goal is to help customers reduce their household waste by offering package free shopping alternatives instead. Reusing and refilling containers helps to reduce the impact of waste, which in turn will help save our planet.

Amanda believes in obtaining a wide range of loose products that are natural and responsibly sourced, so works with suppliers who have a strong ethical ethos and a low environmental impact.

Take a look at Amanda’s tips to help you reduce your waste and watch her video.



Graham likes a challenge.  That’s why he’s a world champion.

Graham’s business SAILSetc, based in Kelvedon, has been a market leader in equipment for radio control model racing yachts since 1978.

Being a lover of sailing on the water, Graham is always looking for ways his business can protect natural resources and reduce its carbon footprint. From packaging, saving energy, reducing plastic and improving manufacturing methods, SAILSetc is making positive manoeuvres to tackle climate change.

Find out how Graham and his business are racing towards the winning line! 

Find out more on the SAILSetc website

Spains Hall Estate

Archie has managed the Spains Hall Estate for over a decade. From working with the Rivers Trust movement, Archie has extensive knowledge of river catchments and the ecosystem approach. He wants to work with nature to address local and wider issues, which will help protect our environment.

The release of beavers for flood risk management is the first step on a transformative future vision Archie has for the Estate. Beavers are nature's engineers, but long forgotten until Archie brought them back to East Anglia. Finchingfield has a river running through the village pond which suffers from flooding when it rains and drought when it doesn't. Since 2019 these hard working rodents have been helping to tackle flooding, drought and generating lots of other benefits along the way.

Archie has been a big part in helping develop Braintree District Council’s Climate Change Strategy 2021-2030.

Milbank Concrete Products

Arriving onto the historic Earls Colne Airfield in 1985, family-run Milbank Concrete Products is the UK’s leading manufacturer of precast and prestressed concrete products. Milbank manufactures a wide range of solutions for the construction industry, from structural floor beams to decorative curved stairs. 

Cement and concrete production produces about 7% of global CO2 emissions, and it’s imperative that businesses do what they can to mitigate their impact on the environment. Milbank has been proactive in adapting its processes to work towards carbon neutrality and is currently leading the way in the concrete industry, pushing to meet its own sustainability goals whilst attempting to influence others.

Milbank understands that its work towards a more sustainable future will never be complete, which is why it is committed to continual research and development. Greenhouse gas emissions produced by Milbank's machinery reduced by up to 90%, with a 35% reduction in particulate mass and a 30% reduction of CO2 company wide.

Join Chris Pygall, Managing Director, as he takes you through some of Milbank’s most important changes over the last 5 years and plans for the future.



Robert is one of the partners of an independent British coffee chain with a café based in Braintree town centre and is making a difference to the environment in more ways than one. The business sources high quality ingredients locally from independent suppliers to cut down on food miles. Any waste is either recycled or turned into ‘refuse derived fuel’ and is never sent to landfill. The used coffee grounds get another lease of life too, as fertiliser for plants. TOAST strives to use 100% recycled materials for takeaway packaging and uses boxes made from recycled cardboard for its delicious toasties.

Together with a range of keep cups and traditional porcelain mugs for sipping and savouring coffee in store, TOAST is on target to reach a goal of only using reusable or recyclable items in their cafés. The next big milestone will be in 2023 when all the coffee lids used will be made from plants.

“Sustainability is close to my heart and we are always striving to reduce our impact on the planet. We are continuously looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint - even if it means taking tough decisions.”


How local engineering firm tackled climate change

Local firm Imperial Thermal Engineering is hugely committed to innovation which tackles climate change and reduces greenhouse emissions.

The firm has successfully developed three pieces of equipment that use electricity instead of fossil fuels in the function of its equipment, putting it at the forefront of using innovative technology in the construction and shrink wrap packaging industries by finding solutions to replace traditional older processes using LPG (liquid propane gas).

Imperial Thermal also joined I-Construct in 2021. The company was able to make use of the I-Construct mentoring programme which helped them clarify their value proposition and plan for growth.

Find out more on the Imperial Thermal website.




Climbing trees

Climbing Trees is an ethical digital marketing agency based in Earls Colne which has a passion to be a force for good for the environment.

You can see this in the way it has made changes to the way they do business.

Alex Holliman, Founder, said: “Some changes we have been able to make quickly such as the move to 100 per cent renewable energy in their office, changing our bank to a more planet friendly supplier, recruitment changes to build a more diverse team. We have reduced travel emissions, we do more home working, client meetings are online by default, we have increased our use of public transport and car sharing. We use planet friendly cleaning products.”

They buy preloved and refurbished technology so less goes to waste and they off set their emission by planting trees.

They continue to work with their landlord to make eco efficiency changes to their office and continue to advocate for greater control over energy, lighting and insulation. They would also like to introduce an electric car rental scheme for the team.

The team call themselves a continual work in progress and know there is more they can do. They are very honest about the things they can’t change right away such as the third-party hosting of their digital services which are energy intensive but essential to their business. The team has contacted them to request they move to renewable energy suppliers.

Alex said: “We offset the things we cannot change, and we have joined the amazing Million Tree Pledge which is a group of businesses committed to planting more than 1 million trees each in response to the climate emergency.”

The team has pledged to become net zero by 2030.

Take a look at this video where Alex goes through everything the company has done and wants to do.

graphic of a smiling globe holding a green heart

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