The Community Conservation Project

The other day a volunteer at Earthworks asked me ‘which job has been the most interesting’ (since the Community Conservation Project began in February this year)? I couldn’t answer them. We have done so many exciting projects that I honestly couldn’t say. Probably my favourite part of the job has been getting to know and working with some of the most interesting people I have ever met. ‘My young people’, as they are sometimes called, are so full of life and make my job incredibly interesting. They have been great fun to work with and have achieved so many great things.

Jonathan Stratton, who has already moved onto bigger and better things, said that his favourite job was creating the paths at Monks Walk School in Welwyn Garden City and Cunningham Hill Infants School in St Albans. This involves sinking logs lengthways into the edge of the paths and filling with bark chippings. We’ve created around 200 metres of paths this way! Jonathan has been a star to work with and we will all miss him loads but wish him well with his job at Morrissons and his studies at college.

For those of you that don’t know much about this project, it is aimed at young people aged 12-25 who want to gain work experience in conservation work. Some have learning difficulties, mental health problems or are having trouble getting into employment. On the project they learn new skills while increasing their confidence and chances of employment. It gives the young people the chance to see what real employment would be like. We are also supporting groups of young people. One of our regular groups is Watling View School who attend on Wednesdays. We also had fun with a group of 60 (!) children from Cunningham Hill Infants School in the summer. We made bird feeders, bug boxes, ladybird keyrings and played games on-site. It was a great day!

One of the more challenging, but hugely rewarding jobs has been at Hatfield House. We were asked to clear a large area around a lake. We chopped down invasive trees such as willow and cut out rhododendron shrubs that cover the ground.

Steve Pike, one of our University students, took over the project for a month whilst I trained our new Garden Contracts Coordinator, Phil Maitland (see Contract Work). Steve had the challenging task of creating raised beds at St Teresa’s School in Borehamwood and Aboyne Lodge Primary School in St Albans. With the help of Andrew Simpkins, our Site Development Coordinator, they created some beautiful beds that make growing vegetables easy. The team on-site also made 3 fantastic compost bins for Aboyne Lodge so they are all set up to start growing their own dinners. Jamie Oliver will be pleased!

And for the future we’re looking forward to pruning the overgrown apple trees at Aboyne Lodge School, creating a wildlife garden at Fleetville School in St Albans, carrying out hazel coppicing at The University of Hertfordshires’ Bayfordbury site and sowing tree seeds at Three Valleys Water, Bushey (to mention a few!).

Much of our work wouldn’t have been possible without the kind donations of endless van loads of logs and mulch from local tree surgeons JW Salmon Tree Specialists, Robinsons Tree Service and Ross Parker of Oakapple Landscapes.

The Community Conservation Project is kindly funded by Esmee Fairbain Foundation and The Young Peoples Fund.

If the Community Conservation Project interests you, there are three ways you can get involved:

  • become a key volunteer and work with us
  • refer young people to us that you think will benefit from the project
  • let us know about a wildlife area in need of conservation.

Please contact the office on 01727 847 311 or 07739 277717 or by email We look forward to your comments and suggestions.