In 2007 our service users, staff and volunteers worked together to build an eco-friendly strawbale workshop for use by members of The Beehive Recovery Group.
Located on Manzil Way, East Oxford, the strawbale workshop provides indoor space for members of The Beehive Recovery Group to use during winter, which enables us to propagate plants from seed and cuttings all year round. Members of the local community visit our shop to buy our herbs and other plants.
The workshop sits on foundations of used car tyres and is a timber frame construction with strawbale walls clad in lime rendering. Building work started early in 2006 and was completed in July 2007. Our strawbale workshop was a runner up in The Guardian 2007 Environmental Buildings Awards.
In line with our ethos of using environmentally friendly products and minimising chemical use, the workshop was built from ecologically friendly and low impact materials. Materials included walls of strawbales and locally sourced hazel, reclaimed timber from local sites. The reclaimed car tyres would usually end up in landfill.
The work was labour intensive and very messy but it provided a great opportunity for people with mental health problems, community volunteers and staff to work together, have fun and learn basic building skills.
The project enabled us to build our links within the community, providing a rewarding and satisfying experience for all involved. We hope this helped challenge stigmas and stereotypes typically associated with mental health problems.
Traditional lime putty plaster was used inside and out, and a lick of natural paint finished the job. Water is collected from the roof to irrigate our plants.
After the new workshop was built the old building was developed into our popular Garden Cafe. The Garden Café Recovery Group provides opportunities for people to learn and practice cooking, serving and shop management skills.