Celebrating 30 years

In 2020 Sunnyside celebrated 30 years of offering training and employment services to young people and adults with learning disabilities from across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It started with a small number of allotments at the Northchurch site offering horticultural training and has developed into an innovative social enterprise, working in the community and from 4 sites in Dacorum and Three Rivers.

Our Vision is to empower vulnerable people to reach their potential and live a healthy life. We do this through horticultural training and work experience, with a strong focus on sustainability and care for the environment.

1990 it all started in Berkhamsted Sunnyside allotments with 6 trainees managing 2 plots.

1996 our purpose built Activity Centre in Berkhamsted was opened allowing trainees to benefit from the therapeutic nature of horticultural activities.

1999 we had 75 trainees working at our two sites and now 140 people work from 4 sites each week.

2010 we received a grant from SEIF and expanded Northchurch from 3 to 6 acres. We built polytunnels, keder greenhouses, fencing and a heritage orchard which is also home to 350 free range chickens. A wide range of fruit,
vegetables, herbs and plants are grown to organic principles here.

2011 we set up SRT Trading ltd, as our trading arm. Our activities allow us to offer services that create paid work for vulnerable young people and adults. Our work includes: a veg box scheme, café, 2 farm shops, producing apple juice, jam, chutney and honey, market stalls, PAT testing, growing perennial and bedding plants for contracts, gardening & warden services.

2011 we won a competitive tender to grow the Summer Bedding Plants for Dacorum Borough Council and a
large grant from big lottery to transform the central nursery in Hemel into a thriving community hub. We grow 90,000 summer bedding plants for the Council every year, which are then planted out all over the borough.

2013 Hemel Food Garden Farm Shop opens and provides our trainees with retail work experience and somewhere to sell our produce. In 2016 we added a café to the farm shop, offering homemade seasonal food using our produce, homemade cake and amazing barista coffee.

2015 we begin our Warden work for Northchurch, Berkhamsted, Little Gaddesden and in 2018 Bovingdon Parish
council awarded us their contract. Our gardening teams are trained and able to offer services to both public and private such as grass cutting, litter picking, minor repairs etc.

2017 was the beginning of our beekeeping venture. Today we manage a large number of hives across the sites with 3 fully trained bee keepers who work alongside our trainees to look after almost a million bees! This is a very rewarding and therapeutic activity that has a number of benefits for Sunnyside, our trainees, nearby allotment holders and the environment.

2019 we began working with Tom & Sue Stuart-Smith on The Orchard Project. We have built a working site in Bedmond, to grow a range of perennials for Tom’s landscape design contracts. We have supplied plants for
Chatsworth house, Bridgewater house and are currently growing Tom’s RHS Hampton Court garden design for 2020 as well as a range of plants for Crocus.

2019 we received a large grant from LEADER fund and match funding to build a new facility at our
Northchurch site. The development will centre around a new stable block and courtyard to house a small
number of rescued animals including donkeys, sheep, goats and small mammals. This means that our trainees
can benefit from the therapeutic nature of working with animals; and allows us to sustainably manage the
land. The design also includes a beautiful break room, meeting space, farm shop and office.