Lovell and Hafod help green-fingered Heronsbridge students grow in confidence

Homes developer Lovell and housing, support and care provider Hafod have joined forces to help students at Heronsbridge School in Bridgend launch a new social enterprise business growing and selling vegetables, herbs and flowers.

The organisations have presented students at the special school, which caters for a wide range of learning needs, with a brand-new polytunnel. The wheelchair-accessible facility provides 16- to 19-year-old students with extensive growing space for cultivating fresh produce, enabling them to develop their horticultural and life skills.

It is the latest initiative launched by Heronsbridge to prepare students for living independently, following on from the school’s successful and long-running Blas Da coffee shop social enterprise and a more recently launched car valeting business.

Mandy Taylor, work-based learning instructor at Heronsbridge School, says:

“To receive this level of support from Lovell and Hafod has been absolutely incredible – there is no way we could have done this on our own. The polytunnel allows us to grow things all-year round and means that we are able to provide students with a realistic working environment.”

Students will work in the mini market garden two days a week, aiming to earn a certificate for their horticultural skills. There are plans to grow organic salad for the school coffee shop which will also sell a range of other produce nurtured in the school market garden.

Lovell, which is currently building 48 new affordable homes for Hafod nearby at a site off Coychurch Road, lent its support to the project through the company’s legacy programme, designed to support organisations and groups in local communities.

Lovell community coordinator Bernadette Vickery says:

“Benefiting the people and places where we build is a key part of our approach to creating new homes. Having previously helped Heronsbridge students start their car valeting business, Lovell was keen to continue to support activities helping prepare students for life after school.

“The polytunnel will help young people grow in skills and confidence, increasing their chances of employment in the future and gaining experience that will assist them in other aspects of life. We also liked the fact that the garden enterprise will be self-funding, enabling it to continue to operate and help students in the future.”

Lovell and Hafod jointly funded and installed the polytunnel, with Lovell making available some of its construction team to build it, generously supported by supply chain partners Rapid Grid and D & A Carpentry.

Cadwgan Thomas, head of development at Hafod, says:

“We were delighted to be able to help Heronsbridge School set up their latest social enterprise business through our community benefits programme which supports local communities where we build.

“During a recent visit, we were able to see first-hand the difference these ventures are making to the pupils, allowing them to develop real-life skills and experiences that will give them the necessary skills to gain employment when they leave school.”

The first residents are set to move in at the new Coychurch Road development built by Lovell for Hafod later this year, with the scheme due for overall completion in January 2019. The new social rented homes have been built on land once occupied by the Bridgend Town AFC football ground.  The development will provide 24 one- and two-bedroom flats; a three-bedroom bungalow and 23 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses.