St Albans charity launch new project to bring gardening to vulnerable people

The Earthworks on Wheels launch. Picture: Archant

The Earthworks on Wheels launch. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A green-fingered charity is setting off to visit gardens around St Albans in their new touring horticulture vehicle.

At a shin-dig at its headquarters, Earthworks revealed a new branded van which will be used to transport gardeners to the houses of vulnerable people in St Albans.

Once there, those on the Earthworks On Wheels project will lend a hand to sprucing up the person’s run-down garden.

During the pilot Earthworks on Wheels will tour once a week, but in time the charity hope to run it five days a week.

The van can carry six people, meaning there is space for workers of all abilities to be adequately assisted by support staff.

Joint project leader Steve Pike said it “really does make a big difference to us”: “We have been going out one day a week, into the community, to do gardening work for vulnerable people, particularly older people.

“So it has got a duel benefit, it is great work experience for our guys - I’m sure they will tell you, they are all tremendously proud to go out and do a days work, it fills them with satisfaction and we have a great time doing it - and we are visiting people who might be a bit more isolated or definitely need a bit of help with their gardens.

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“We are helping to get their gardens back but we are also quite a friendly bunch so we will sit and have a cup of tea which is sometimes all they want.”

He said getting out and “showing the community what we can do” was an important part of the project.

It has been funded by Colney Heath Parish Council, Robins and Day, the Rotary Club of St Albans Verulamium, and North Pole trekker Ed Suttie.

Ed raised £60,000 for three local charities in 2016, one of which was Earthworks. About £14,000 of that went towards the Earthworks on Wheels project.

He said: “The power and recuperation of horticultural practices both for the earthworkers and volunteers is a very powerful thing and I was really keen to support that and take them on the next leg of their evolution.”

Earthworks are situated on a three-acre site on Hixberry Lane, complete with gardens, heritage orchard, vegetable beds, shade tunnels and polytunnel. The charity offers horticultural training for people with learning disabilities.

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