About us

Where we work

Walled gardenHemel Food Garden & Farm Shop

Hemel Food Garden is based at Dacorum Borough Council’s former Central Nursery site close to Hemel Hempstead town centre. The project began on 1st August 2011 when we won a competitive tender to take over the site and deliver the Council’s bedding plant contracts.

Surrounded by the canal and a fishing lake the site consists of a large greenhouse and polytunnels; training room and workshop; demonstration planting beds and growing areas, a fruit orchard, open space, seating areas and a farm shop selling our own and other local produce . The site has level access facilities.

Regular activities at the site include growing vegetables, and herbs; bedding plants and making up hanging baskets for the local Council and for other sales and carrying out site maintenance and improvements. All activities are carried out by our trainees with learning disabilities, supported by our staff team and volunteers.

Vital funding towards the project has been secured from a range of sources including: BIG Lottery Local Food; Chilterns Conservation Board; Dacorum Partnership; & Hertfordshire County Council. The aim for Hemel Food Garden is for it to become a community hub and we will be organising a Community Training Programme for the public.

Farm Shop

Our Farm Shop at Hemel Food Garden sells a whole range of our own produce as well as produce from other local producers such as Wobbly Bottom Cheese and Just Biscuits.  As our produce is seasonal there is always something new on offer as well as our regular free range eggs from our flock of chickens at Northchurch, our lovely jam, chutney and apple juice.

The shop of open 10 – 3 Monday to Saturday and is off Two Waters Way, Hemel Hempstead (behind K2 Balti Restaurant.  We have a car park and as the entrance is one way you exit down Two Waters Road)

Activity Centre Berkhamsted

Our purpose built Activity Centre is situated amongst beautiful surroundings off Ivy House Lane in Berkhamsted.

Trainees at the site develop their skills in a range of activities including site maintenance, planting and weeding, pruning and hedge cutting, creating new growing areas, cooking daily meals, making jams and chutneys and creating craft products from willow and other natural products from the surrounding site.

We manage several different areas which surround the Centre including allotments, orchards, coppice and a conservation site. We grow a range of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables all grown to organic standards which we sell to the public and use to make preserves and lunch for our trainees.

Conservation

For some years now, we have been in partnership with the Environment Committee of Berkhamsted Town Council to jointly manage a grassland area of wildlife interest on our leased land at Sunnyside New allotments, which offers trainees the opportunity to practice conservation skills. This type of rough grassland is becoming increasingly scarce in this part of the country. Ecologists from Hertfordshire County Council and local wildlife trusts have visited this site which is rich in anthills, wildflowers and grasses, and where there is a healthy population of lizards and good bird biodiversity.

Northchurch

This site has been transformed from allotment land and now consists of several poly tunnels, green houses, orchard areas, soft fruit area, a community growing project and the home for our free range chickens.

A wide range of fruit, vegetables, herbs and plants are grown to organic principles and we have an onsite shop, run by our trainees with support from our staff. This sells our home grown produce, eggs, and craft items. We also run a Thursday morning stall to sell our produce on Berkhamsted High Street (outside Greggs).

Activities at Northchurch

• Looking after the chickens – feeding, cleaning out etc
• Looking after other livestock – such as turkeys
• Growing produce from seed or bulbs
• Looking after the crops
• Preparing the ground beforehand – digging, use of the rotivator
• Weeding & watering
• Looking after the site – mowing the grass, repairing and painting the chicken houses etc
• Going on external contracts such as litter picking