Volunteering with Hurst Farm Regeneration Project

Category: Social Value

Stepnell volunteers recently undertook a unique construction challenge by assisting the Hurst Farm Regeneration Project in Matlock.

A team of Stepnell volunteers rebuild a drystone wall in Matlock, a unique construction challenge assisting the Hurst Farm Regeneration project.

On a mostly dry and sunny day, the volunteers worked alongside park ranger Amanda, an experienced drystone waller, to dismantle a broken drystone wall and rebuild its foundations. They received instructions on the wall’s components and appropriate tools, which they were able to use after a thorough health and safety briefing.

Additionally, the volunteers assisted in a local woodland, planting trees and removing invasive species such as sycamore and maples. They learned techniques for uprooting smaller plants and safely felling trees using the “step cut” and “80% front cut”. Aftercare manager Shaun was  particularly impressed with the inverted grass plug method of tree planting.

Hurst Farm, one of Derbyshire’s most deprived areas, hosts the Hurst Farm Regeneration Project, which aims to cultivate a thriving and vibrant community. The project includes social enterprises that offer locals opportunities to learn gardening, dry stone walling, woodland management, plus hospitality through initiatives like the Milk Churn Cafe. There is also the Farmer’s Larder, a farm shop which supplies locals with affordable fresh produce through a partnership with FareShare. 

After their efforts, the volunteers enjoyed a guided walk along part of the heritage trail, led by Louise, an apprentice ranger. They visited the Wishing Stone, and learned about plans to enhance views of Lumsdale Valley and proposals for planting native trees, plants, and wildflowers to boost biodiversity.

Stepnell offers all employees two volunteer days each year to support them to being proactive in activities that mutually benefit the individual, the company and the community. This opportunity was coordinated by Derbyshire Time Swap, a platform facilitating time exchanges between individuals and organisations to support community projects.

Lindsey Coombs, Time Swap Development Officer, High Peak & Derbyshire Dales said,
“The group of staff from Stepnell were enthusiastic, friendly and worked hard all day with smiles on their faces. It was an absolute joy to facilitate this exchange which made a big difference to a fantastic community project.”

All the volunteers said how much they had enjoyed getting out of the office and learning something new.

“The opportunity to get outdoors among nature is good for your physical and mental wellbeing and has given us an important insight to what these organisations are doing for their local communities. To be just a small part of this gives me a great sense of pride and achievement,”
Commented trainee quantity surveyor, Rachel.

Senior estimator David, was full of praise for the rangers at Hurst Farm.
“Amanda and Louise, our hosts extraordinaire, were not just fantastic, but loads of fun and overflowing with knowledge.”

The Stepnell volunteers are looking forward to returning later in the year, accompanied by more colleagues to make a bigger impact.

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