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New Environmental Learning Hub teaches young people how to protect and enhance biodiversity

G F Tomlinson’s commitment to social value has seen the creation of their Community Investment Fund, providing support to local community initiatives ensuring projects deliver real added value to local people. Most recently the fund has supported The Turner Farm Project in the creation of a new Environmental Learning Hub providing a dedicated area for the charity to teach young people about biodiversity and how they can protect and enhance it.

The Turner Farm Project, an innovative education initiative run by local charity Valley CIDS, provides a safe, engaging learning space for young people who are disconnected from mainstream education.

On average 35-55 young people are referred to Valley CIDS’s alternative education provision each year by Derbyshire County Council and the hub gives students access to broader environmental and biodiversity learning opportunities.

The Turner Farm Project also opens to the wider community outside of term time, with young people from Valley CIDS’s local Blend Youth Project centres participating in activity days at the farm.


Valley CIDS’s latest development on Turner Farm involved the creation of an environmental learning hub to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the site and provide broader learning opportunities to young people as part of their alternative education provision.

Key deliverables included the provision of a field shelter to act as a base from which children and young people can study wildlife in their natural habitat.  Working in partnership with Valley CIDS, G F Tomlinson developed a solution which delivered:

  • Reorientation of the site to ensure wildlife and their habitats were protected
  • Completion of groundworks including a sub-base for the shelter
  • Construction of a bespoke 5x4m shelter, sourced from a specialist supplier.

Local supply chain partners, including Total Hire & Sales and Alliance Groundworks, supported the initiative, donating equipment and materials for the project.

The works to create the sub-base and construct the field shelter were undertaken over a three-day period outside of term time to avoid disruption to the educational activities taking place on the site.

During term time students at the Farm were engaged in developing the rest of the environmental hub as part of their practical learning activities including building raised planters and constructing a path around the environmental area up to the rest of the farm.


The site for the environmental hub had to be reoriented when investigations confirmed that Valley CIDS original proposed location for the field shelter would not be possible due to the suspected presence of protected species.

An alternative location was identified and revised scope of works developed which allowed for the different ground conditions and site constraints.

As an alternative provision site Turner Farm is attended by 11-16 year olds during term time and work was programmed during the Easter holidays to prevent disruption to the day-to-day educational activities.  Works were undertaken over a three-day period and completed by the end of the Easter break ready for use from the start of the summer term.


  • 152% social value added
  • 147 hours invested

The Turner Farm Project offers alternative learning opportunities for local children and young people and the new environmental learning hub expands the Farm’s education provision, ensuring young people get the opportunity to learn more about the environment and how to protect it.

The new hub exceeded all objectives and was successfully completed within tight timescales on a constrained site.

This project, a social value initiative funded by G F Tomlinson’s Regional Construction framework Community Fund, has been the result of meaningful collaboration between Valley CIDS, G F Tomlinson and local supply chain partners who all share a passion to deliver benefits to the local community.

Ian Tannahill, Director of Young People’s Services at Valley CIDs commented: “Our primary focus at Turner Farm is to support the personal development and educational attainment of young people who face barriers to accessing mainstream education. We know that the traditional classroom learning environment fails to cater for their learning styles and needs and it is therefore important for us to provide alternative learning spaces and opportunities that inspire the young people to learn.

“The new environmental learning hub is a prime example of such an inspirational learning space. Having also worked diligently over the past number of years to both protect and enhance the biodiversity of the Turner Farm site, we are thrilled with the addition of the hub.  It fits in wonderfully within an area of the site where we have been developing pond, wetland, horticulture and nature trail areas and enables young people to have a front row seat to the action.  We are therefore very grateful to G F Tomlinson for their generosity and support with this project and we know that it will make a difference to the lives and learning opportunities of many young people.”




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New Environmental Learning Hub teaches young people how to protect and enhance biodiversity




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