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The fine foodie

PUBLISHED: 11:29 28 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:29 28 October 2014

Some of the fresh produce harvested from the Earthworks site in St Albans

Some of the fresh produce harvested from the Earthworks site in St Albans

Archant

Sharon Struckman visits a special St Albans site nurturing both organic produce and young people

I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at Earthworks, a charity that offers placements to people aged 16 and above with learning disabilities or mental health problems.

These trainees receive work experience in horticulture, ecology, conservation, small-scale construction, land-based skills, woodwork and crafts at a three-acre site in St Albans. The site has beautiful gardens, a tree nursery, apple orchard, vegetable beds and a polytunnel. The Earthworks staff and volunteers work to maintain this fantastic resource while following organic and permaculture principles. The group sells its produce on a regular stall at St Albans Farmers’ Market on the second Sunday of each month and during the week you can visit and buy from the site on Hixberry Lane.

The produce includes fruit and veg such as apache potatoes, artichokes and leeks (all pictured), butternut squash, tomatoes, apples, carrots, cucumbers and lettuce, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley and chives. The very tasty apple juice is made from fruits harvested in the orchard and the delicious chutney is made from the abundance of produce in the autumn. The group also has bee hives and will be selling honey in the near future.

The charity also get crafty, creating bug boxes, nesting balls, willow plant supports and oak cheese boards and chalk boards.

Come rain or shine, the trainees are instrumental in maintaining the beautiful gardens, cultivating the fruit and vegetables and selling the produce to the public. They also go out as a ‘garden contract team’ to help in the gardens and allotments of local people and schools.

To find out more about this amazing charity, go to earthworksstalbans.co.uk or call 01727 847311.

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Sharon Struckman is a food blogger and photographer at whatishootieat.co.uk

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