Pupils’ new busi­ness is real grower

Glamorgan Gazette - - News - STAFF RE­PORTER news­desk@waleson­line.co.uk

STU­DENTS at a South Wales school have launched a new so­cial en­ter­prise busi­ness grow­ing and sell­ing veg­eta­bles, herbs and flow­ers.

Homes de­vel­oper Lovell and hous­ing, sup­port and care provider Hafod have joined forces to help stu­dents at Herons­bridge School in Brid­gend with the pro­ject.

The or­gan­i­sa­tions have pre­sented stu­dents at the spe­cial school, which caters for a wide range of learn­ing needs, with a 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, work­based learn­ing in­struc­tor at Herons­bridge School, said: “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 said: “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, said: “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 first­hand 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.”

Stu­dents at Herons­bridge School in their new poly­tun­nel do­nated by Lovell and Hafod

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