Our Story

The Earthworks Story

25 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. But integration was lacking.

The Earthworks steering committee formed in response to these changes in social care. We 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 five 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 and employed a full-time Project Leader.

We built and developed the site with an environmental ethos using largely reclaimed materials. Supported by volunteers, local schools and community groups, we were people of all abilities learning and working together.

From an empty two-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!


Reclaimed wooden site building erected. Woodland and orchard planted.


Compost toilets and reed bed sewage system installed.


Propagation area and wildflower meadow started.


Garden Contracts Project and Farmers’ Market stall begun.


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


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


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


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


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


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.


Earthworks receives the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.


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


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


An arson attack once again destroys the Earthworks site hut.


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


Construction begins on a new Earthworks site HQ.


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.


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


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.