Earthworks St. Albans is a registered charity that offers trainees, often with learning difficulties or mental health problems, work experience and training in horticultural and land-based skills. We have a two-acre site in Hixberry Lane, St. Albans. It is managed on environmental principles and we have open days a number of times a year. Members of the public are welcome to visit and buy our produce
Earthworks staff and volunteers work – and learn – with the trainees to maintain the site, with its gardens, tree nursery, vegetable beds, shade tunnels and polytunnel.
Earthworks also has a contracts team that undertakes gardening and construction tasks for local individuals, institutions and organisations. We have a stall at the monthly St. Albans Farmers’ Market where we sell fruit, vegetables, herbs and craft produced at Hixberry Lane.
As construction begins on the new site hut we are continuing to fund raise and source materials for this big project. If you are able to help by providing or discounting any of the materials listed below we would be extremely grateful.
Steve and Dave, and team, at Harts of Oak have been very busy at their Hoddesdon base for the past few weeks. Using old fashioned carpentry techniques they are transforming the oak trees from Pamberton Forest into a magnificent timber frame that will soon form the core of our new site building!
Once the frame is ready it will be disassembled and brought to Earthworks. It will then be re-erected where our original shed once stood, watch this space…
Accompanied by Lady Verulam, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, visited Earthworks on Wednesday 1st May.
She had previously toured Highfield Park before her stop at the Earthworks site. Phil Maitland showed The Countess around our gardens as the spring sunshine beamed down on everybody. Sophie took her time casually and earnestly chatting with the organisation’s trainees and volunteers who were busy gardening.
Rob said afterwards “Sophie was a very special and beautiful lady. She talked to me about what I do at Earthworks. I told her that different people come here to learn new things”.
Gareth followed “I told Sophie what my name is, it was very nice to meet her. She was very smart. She asked me about the jobs I like, I said that I chop logs and I do some digging, it is hard work”.
Sophie also met with the architects and builders (from Harts Of Oak and Ecovril) involved in the re-build of our site hut.
Everyone was delighted that Sophie came to visit us and was proud to talk to her about our activities. It is something that the trainees will remember and be talking about fondly for a long time.
Recently Gareth and Sam accompanied Steve on a trip to Pamberton Forest in Hampshire.
Pamberton Forest is a nature reserve and a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) because of it’s diversity of insects and plants. It is carefully managed to protect this delicate wildlife.
We saw the oak trees being cut down that will very soon be used to construct out new site hut!
We are delighted to say that work has now started on the new building!
Everyone has been busy on site with potting, planting and generally tidying up.
We now have the Portakabin (as pictured) in the Market Garden area. This is our only covered, indoor area until the new site building is ready. It will eventually be used for two purposes. One side will be a classroom/workshop and the other side as a dry storage area and shop.
In the foreground of the above photo we have Cavolo Nero growing and the beetroot is just starting to come through. In addition, broad beans have been planted.
One side of our polytunnel, see photo left, is full of young ornamental plants including lupins, cornflowers, marigolds and stocks. These seeds were sown last year and potted on this year.
On the other side there are lots of salad plants and spring onions. (Later on, tomato plants will be grown here – the seedlings are currently being grown in the office!).
Work is now due to start on our brand new site building so we are all very excited to see it take form.
Some fencing has been put up but we still hope to raise more money for this and would welcome any contributions to this fund.
Sadly, one of our lovely volunteers Loraine Stephens passed away recently. She was a very popular and hard working member of the team on site.
She got to know our trainees well and worked with them on many projects but in particular crafts such as Christmas card making. One time she brought her guitar along and they all had a sing-song to Beatles songs.
People like Loraine are what make Earthworks special. She gave up her free time to help others but thoroughly enjoyed it as well and she brought her love of gardening with her and shared her knowledge. She encouraged our trainees and made friends with many of them. She brought her puppy, Rocky, to site to meet everyone and they are both missed very much.
Her husband, Kevin, has launched a campaign to bring greater awareness to Ovarian Cancer by setting up a JustGiving page. There is a lot more information on the page. You can find it at:
On December 15th St. Albans Abbey and Cathedral was bursting with families enjoying the afternoon carol concert, performed by the St. Albans Bach Choir (www.stalbansbachchoir.org.uk), with collections in support of Earthworks.
We were honoured to have been selected by the choir as their charity and were grateful for, if not a little daunted by, the opportunity to address the large audience and inform them of the work that we do.
We would like to thank the choir and the audience for all of their kind donations, which totaled £910.53! This money is being used towards the construction of our new site building which will be completed in the summer of 2013.
You may download the following three reports from our 11th October AGM, plus the Agenda:
A big thank you to the St. Albans Bakehouse for supporting us on their Great St. Albans Cake-Off event held on Sunday 7th October. Earthworks was their nominated charity for donations and we received almost £100.00. Thank you! The café is in Heritage Close, St. Albans. For information about them and the Cake-Off please visit their website: www.localbakehouse.co.uk.