Hill Holt Wood is part of the OUR BRIGHT FUTURE movement, and their Growing Up Green project is re-engaging 4000 youngsters in the environment between 2016 and 2021 through a varied programme of events and workshops.
Hill Holt Wood sits beside the busy A46 Roman Road linking Lincoln to Newark, along which thousands of cars whizz by without casting little more than a cursory glance at the long banner announcing the wood’s entrance. As such; the wood is regarded as a bit of a hidden gem, despite hosting hundreds of visitors each year for a multitude of events ranging from school visits and talks to weddings and funerals. Many first-time visitors remark “I always wondered what it was,” as they make their way along the track to the wonderful Woodhall and Hive Café. Built by rangers, students, volunteers and engineers in a knowledge transfer partnership with Lincoln University the rammed earth walls and triple glazed windows are a satisfying mix of woodland and modernity. Compost loos, rainwater harvesting, log burning stove and green roof reaffirm the sustainability theme. The venue itself is home to events and functions, opening as a café on Sundays and looks out into the organic garden, busy with onsite honeybees, and into the heart of the wood itself; a mixed woodland of predominantly Oak, Ash and Hazel.
The venue is often hired out for birthdays, wedding parties, business meetings and conferences where the food is prepared by one of the wood’s Hospitality groups, part of the Study Programme which boasts year-long courses in outdoor subjects too (including a unique heritage woodcraft course). The Hill Holt Wood business model, a thriving Social Enterprise which reinvests all profits into the woodland, is built upon a system of stacked benefits. Young people performing genuine business tasks benefit from work experience alongside their education which helps the business keep the costs down, making services more affordable to the community. The wood is also used as a referral point for local schools; youngsters at risk of being excluded from their school education can spend a couple of days in the woodland each week to aid in their social and behavioural development.
The social enterprise also reaches out into the community, litter picking and mowing countryside walks, looking after elderly people’s gardens and designing and building eco-buildings by way of the onsite design team.
In addition to the main woodland Hill Holt Wood also manages hundreds of acres of woodland in the local area, including Big Wood (home to a mental health rehabilitation and well-being project) and the Woodland Trust’s Skellingthorpe Old Wood. The business flourishes from partnerships around the country and is part of Making Local Woods Work. You can even find their chopping boards in the Woodland Trust catalogue!
As more and more people stop by instead of whizzing past, the wood continues to thrive, employing over 30 staff and is open every day of the year (excluding wedding days). Future plans include developing a campsite and treehouse studio.
Websites: Hill Holt Wood
An NHS forest
A new community woodland
A new generation of woodland workers
Rediscovering woodland heritage
Two community woodlands
Community rangers care for special places
A nature retreat
A new community woodland
Community forests harvesting & art
Nature in the inner city
Trees stand for nature
Community wood allotment