‘Acorn Garden Services’ was set up in September 2001, with the help of a grant from the Lottery Community Fund. It is a division of Oak Tree Farm Rural Project where workers have the opportunity to work in the Community as part of a team doing gardening work. Staffed by a Team Leader it is run as a business. Three core workers are involved each day and additional workers join the teams to meet their requirements. This means many more people have an opportunity to take part. Money generated by the services is apportioned so that those workers doing the work receive expenses for their efforts. The balance is then reinvested in equipment. Workers benefits are not affected because of the limited amount of time an individual spends on the project.

Workers take part in decision making on a daily basis and at monthly ‘Workers Committee’ meetings. This gives opportunities to learn about running a small business, about finance and committee experience.

Acorn Garden Services has proved to be extremely successful since it began. Team Members look forward to the days they attend and look on it as real employment, often asking for additional days work. The community in which they work, many of them elderly, disabled or disadvantaged in some way, look forward to their visits, when they provide a valuable service to those who have difficulty maintaining their gardens..

The team has built a strong reputation since they began, with new work coming in on the recommendation of existing customers. During the growing season there is often more work than they are able to complete and jobs have had to be turned away.

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