Derwen Estates was formed when the college farm was redeveloped to offer work-based training in Estate Work, Conservation and Arboriculture.
Work-based training complements the teaching and training offered by the Horticulture and Practical Skills Departments. Derwen Estates is usually offered during the second or third year, when students are better able to access a real work situation and put into practice what they have learned, gaining valuable work-related skills. Students join a team that tackles a wide range of land-based or estate work, where the team members, under expert guidance, assist with the building, planting, maintenance and project development work.
Derwen Estates is a ten-acre site, split into a woodland area with a 750-metre wheelchair accessible footpath and approximately 3000 young trees. The Earth Centre has been developed as an environmental teaching resource and visitor centre, with the theme of the natural environment, sustainability and the impact that people have upon it. An extensive Christmas tree and hazel plantation was developed to supply the garden centre.
The Earth Centre is comprised of different habitats, including a pocket-sized cornfield and hay meadow, a small wetland area including a duck pond, for free range egg production, and a marshland area. There are areas for attracting birds and insects. In addition, there are large beds of different varieties of willow trees for basketry and other willow work. A number of trees are grown in the nursery and a small organic allotment has been developed. Derwen Estates produces teasels, bulrushes, poppy heads, twisty willow, Christmas trees, vegetables, free range duck eggs and a variety of seeds for sale to the public through college outlets.