Berkhamsted charity Sunnyside Rural Trust will be involved in this year's RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival

The charity will be raising awareness of the work it does

Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:35 am
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 9:36 am

A charity in Berkhamsted that offers training and work experience for vulnerable people will be at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival in July.

The charity is growing 12,000 perennials for acclaimed landscape architect, Tom Stuart-Smith’s exhibition garden as the RHS Iconic Horticultural Hero this year.

Sunnyside Rural Trust will also be providing plants to the RHS for their bench planters at the show and there will be stands at the festival promoting how the charity works with young people and adults with learning difficulties.

Sunnyside Rural Trust will be involved in this year's RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival

The organisation trains people with learning disabilities to acquire skills in a number of rural activities including beekeeping, looking after chickens, growing a wide range of plants and produce, landscaping and garden maintenance.

Sunnyside Rural Trust offers training and employment to young people and adults with learning disabilities across three sites in Dacorum - including two farm shops and a café.

They aim to offer paid, supported employment posts to people with learning disabilities and currently have six former service users in paid positions with Sunnyside - including caretakers, head of animal care, a barista and gardeners.

The charity challenges the public’s perception of people with learning disabilities by focussing on what they achieve rather than on their ‘disability’.

Sunnyside Rural Trust will be involved in this year's RHS Hampton Court Garden Festival

Trainees, at Sunnyside are enabled to gain horticultural skills and, more significantly, to develop valuable social skills.

Keely Siddiqui-Charlick, CEO, Sunnyside Rural Trust, said: “Sunnyside is delighted to have this opportunity to work with Tom Stuart-Smith, Toby and Chris Marchant and the RHS to produce outstanding perennial plants.

"This project represents a sustainable source of income for our charity, which is needed now more than ever; it offers vital training and employment opportunities for some of the most vulnerable young people and adults, with the therapeutic benefits of horticulture.

"For our customers, not only can you buy high-quality plants but the chance to make a difference to your community in a sustainable and meaningful way.”

As the RHS’s Iconic Horticultural Hero, Tom Stuart-Smith has designed the feature garden as a climate-resilient planting of meadow perennials interspersed with Mediterranean shrubs. It includes a loose planting of figs, Pistacia, Phillyrea and the rare Mediterranean conifer Tetraclinis articulata.

Together these trees and shrubs form a framework for a colourful mix of flowers and grasses.

Every plant included is adapted to hot and fairly dry conditions. The Hemel Hempstead site now produces a range of perennial plants for the discerning landscape market.

Tickets to the event are available to buy directly from the RHS website.

In 2020 Sunnyside celebrated 30 years of offering training and employment services to young people and adults with learning disabilities from across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

What started as a small number of allotments at the Northchurch site offering horticultural training, has developed into an innovative social enterprise, working in the community and from four local sites.

The Sunnyside vision is to empower vulnerable people to reach their full potential and lead a healthy life through horticultural training and work experience. All activities focus strongly on sustainability and care for the environment.

Keely added: "We wish everyone good health and stay safe and we look forward to helping our community grow in the years to come."