https://communityinterestcompanies.blog.gov.uk/2019/09/26/orchard-barn-education-environment-centre-cic-building-naturally-in-the-21st-century/

Orchard Barn Environmental Education Centre (OBEE) CIC - building naturally in the 21st century

Orchard Barn Environmental Education Centre Community Interest Company (OBee CIC) is a Suffolk-based social enterprise. It specialises in traditional building projects with a low tech, off-grid approach.

Achievements with the help of our trainees and volunteers

a line of volunteers sitting on a tree bark

Since 2007 we’ve worked with over 3000 trainees and volunteers. They have helped to re-build and renovate our 17th century timber frame derelict barn. They have also helped in creating fine workshops and education facilities using both indoor and outdoor spaces. This includes building our own compost toilet and rainwater management systems. Together we have renovated our ancient orchard and brought areas of ground into production for fruit, vegetables and flowers. We now sell some of this produce.

Project 'Suffolk Long House'

students working on timber frame for Long House

In 2017 we obtained permission for the reinstatement of the derelict timber-framed Suffolk Long House. It is providing an exciting training project for using hand tools and locally sourced wood. In doing this we will continue with our work helping renovate local woodland to become productive again. We will continue to help generate demand for local timber, coppice materials and products through courses we run such as making stools, benches, spoons etc.

Our commitment to the environment and community

people attending a craft course

We dig and use our own clay and teach people how to build using it. OBee CIC helps people understand that natural build/traditional houses can be 100% recycled. Single use building materials are a big environmental problem that we seek to change attitudes towards!

Our aim is to keep old skills alive and relevant to 21st century. We are also very conscious of our role in the economic development of this very rural area of Suffolk by bringing participants in our project from far and wide where they can stay and eat here.

Two volunteers laying hand made shingles

We also work hard to make our project relevant and accessible to local people. In particular to those who may be struggling to find activities which value their skills or provide them with meaningful activity. We have a variety of volunteer groups for people to join in on a regular basis, such as

  • green woodworking
  • gardening and
  • woodland work.

To put this into perspective, volunteers have contributed over 9,000 days since we began. The project would not be what it is without their expertise, energy and commitment. It is the time, energy and expertise of local volunteers that underpins everything we do at Orchard Barn.

Want to give it a go?

Visitors at a meeting with staff of Orchard Barn

We run events open to all, as well as bespoke training or activities for particular groups such as Suffolk Young Carers, Brownies or U3A.

We also take Orchard Barn out ‘on the road’ to spread knowledge and the chance to try out skills at local events, festivals, exhibitions and group meetings.

If you are interested in volunteering you can contact us by email at sarah@orchardbarn.org.uk

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