Our Story

 

The Earthworks Story

 

Over 20 years ago our journey began with the closure of five large psychiatric hospitals that were situated in and around St. Albans. Residents made the positive move into supported, community-based housing however opportunities for integration needed to be developed. 

The Earthworks steering committee formed in response to these changes in social care. The committee aimed to meet the aspirations of people with learning disabilities for social involvement and creative occupation. Our driving principle was, and still is, to develop a place where all people are enabled to work together as equals.

Our extensive consultation with service users, carers and social services revealed land-based activity to be the most popular creative occupation! Thus Earthworks developed as a charity offering training and work experience in horticulture and conservation.

After 5 years preparation and consultation, we leased a two-acre site of waste ground in Hixberry Lane, St. Albans from the district council. We devised a range of training activities and work experience, employed a full-time Project Leader and we were all set to go!

Our teams built and developed the site with an environmental ethos using largely reclaimed materials. Our efforts were supported by volunteers, local schools and community groups, with people of all abilities learning and working together!

From an empty 2 acre field and a vision, we now have a flourishing 3.5 acre site boasting habitat, production and sensory spaces as well as a purpose built eco-building! We are involved in a number of projects and ventures on-site and in the community. Take a look at our projects page to see our latest developments!

 

1996

Reclaimed wooden site building erected. Woodland and orchard planted.

1997

Compost toilets and reed bed sewage system installed.

1998

Propagation area and wildflower meadow started.

1999

Garden Contracts Project and Farmers’ Market stall begun.

2000

Wind turbine and solar PV panel installed. Tree nursery started. Millennium Maze Project in Highfield Park.

2001

New metal site building erected to replace wooden one destroyed in a fire. Wood stove installed for heating, burning waste wood.

2002

Market Garden Project started with the renovation of a large polytunnel. Dry river bed garden developed.

2003

Charcoal burning and willow workshops begin. Green Pennant award achieved.

2004

Straw bale/cob building started. Wildlife totem pole erected at the Millennium Maze. Green Pennant award renewed. Investors in People award achieved.

2005

Pathways and access points to the site widened to extend access for wheelchair users. Our tenth anniversary. A Members’ List for active supporters is created.

2006

Earthworks receives the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

2008

Earthworks provides training and assessment for the NPTC Level 2 Certificate in Horticulture. Many trainees subsequently gain their qualification.

2010

Our fifteenth anniversary. New toilets and plans to build a new wood working area.

2011

An arson attack once again destroys the Earthworks site hut.

2012

Three large sheltered work spaces constructed including workshop area for woodwork.

2013

Construction begins on a new Earthworks site HQ.

2014

The new Oak Framed Eco-Building is completed and named ‘The Warren’ in tribute to Lynette Warren, a long standing Earthworks Trustee, who passed away before it’s completion.

2015

Our twentieth anniversary. The car park area is renovated to prevent flooding and Earthworks holds it’s first Christmas fair

2016

Bespoke marquee sides are added to wood shelter areas creating an indoor work and event space. The solar PV lighting system is expanded to include lighting for the marquee and car park areas. Earthworkers given their own growing plots.