Saffron Acres Preserves on Sale at Midlands Co-op!
Plums and apples grown on Saffron Acres will be turned into spiced plum jam and spiced apple chutney sold in Midlands Co-op stores this year as part of an innovative project which offers work experience and skills training for up to fifty young adults with learning difficulties, and local unemployed people.
We’ve been looking for the right product around which to base a sustainable community enterprise, and with the help and support of our partners Leicester College, who will be training young adults to cook and package the jam, and Midlands Co-op, who have assisted with marketing and distribution, we’re now able to move into commercial jam production for the first time.
It’s fantastic that both the college and the Co-op are supporting us in this venture because it will genuinely make a difference to the lives of local people trying to improve their skills and employability. Plus, the plums are all grown right here in Leicester and the jam and chutney are delicious!
It’s very difficult to access funding for community projects at the moment, so if we are to continue providing opportunities for local people, a more sustainable and financially attractive enterprise is critical. We have high hopes for Saffron Acres preserves, and if the Christmas trial goes well, we will be working with Midlands Co-operative to further the project. Find out more at http://saffron.midlands.coop/
In the Beginning
Saffron Acres took over twelve acres of the allotments in 2006, with the intention of providing funded work placements and volunteering opportunities for local people to learn how to live more sustainably; growing and cooking their own produce, generating green energy, and living a healthier lifestyle. Since then the site has produced everything from striped beetroot and blue pumpkins to exotic crops from around the world, allowing it to successfully supply a range of local restaurants with specialised vegetables and herbs, as well as supporting local community projects.
We currently have an orchard, soft fruit area, a maize maze, and lots of vegetable beds. All our visitors help to maintain these – making the project a real community effort.
We currently work with volunteers from a range of agencies including schools, colleges and universities, children’s centres, and probation services, and also with local companies providing team building and social responsibility activities for their employees.
We have an excellent record of supporting long term volunteers back into work, 60% of whom have since found paid employment. Volunteering is very flexible. We currently have opportunities every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and most Saturdays. You can set your watch by some of our volunteers because they come the same time every day. Others call up when they fancy a bit of ‘green time’. Whenever is good for you, is good for us. We are always looking for new volunteers to help with our many activities. You don’t need to be a gardening expert to come along and get involved. We ask you to wear strong shoes and we will do the rest. We provide all your tools and gloves as well as tea and coffee while you are with us. Please bring whatever you want to eat during your time with us, and remember we have no mains power – so no microwave meals please! And yes, it has happened before!
Improve Your Health
It’s widely acknowledged that gardening and contact with nature is good for health, and Saffron Acres is a great place to come to help you feel better. It’s not formal exercise, just a gentle way of getting active without realising it. Whilst most jobs involve walking around and standing up – several can be done sitting down. We have a selection of raised beds that are designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, and our composting toilet is fully accessible too.
We can help you to continue your healthy lifestyle at home too, Click here to find out about what your ‘five a day’ actually is. We can also help you find out what your BMI or ‘Body Mass Index’ is, and give you tips on how to improve it.
Volunteering with us is fun, a great place to come to get out of the house and to meet a group of new people. Seeing things grow is a great experience and encourages people to visit again, just to see how the littlest of the tomato plants is coming along. We have at least one quiet day each week when people can attend and get involved without the hustle and bustle of a school group being on site at the same time. If you would like to visit at a quieter time – just let us know. We don’t just need people who enjoy getting messy on the allotments. We will be expanding the varieties of exotic crops that we grow, so maybe you can come along and show us how to grow Luffa? Or perhaps you have some spare time and are skilled in fundraising, bid writing, web design, film making, construction, or working with children.
Educational Visits to Learn and Play
At Saffron Acres we have facilities for groups, and educational visits are very popular. We can offer guided sessions to fit in with a range of curriculum themes including habitats, the elements, environmental art, materials and construction, recycling, and growing fruit and vegetables of course. Alongside educational visits, we can offer the facilities for a fun day out; hunting for bugs, building a den, and cooking on a camp fire or our large BBQ.
We can provide activities for up to thirty children, either a full day or half day depending on your requirements. Due to the nature of our site we require a ratio of one responsible adult/teacher to five children. A typical visit could include den building, bug hunting, a butterfly trail, a seed sowing or planting activity, environmental art, habitats identification, a picnic in the orchard and a tour of the site. Activities can link to areas of the curriculum at KS1, KS2 and KS3 levels, including Art & Design, Citizenship & PSHE, Design & Technology, English, Geography, ICT, Maths and Science. Pupils at KS4 can also undertake project work on our site.
With larger groups (over thirty children) attending for a full day, we can arrange a two-group structure incorporating a session at Saffron Acres with a session at Goldhill Adventure Playground, with groups swapping over at lunch time. Activities would depend on the age group and link to their curriculum, taking into account the time of year and growing season.
Family Gardening Fun
Have you thought about coming along and getting involved as a family? At our weekend volunteering sessions, usually on a Saturday, we welcome families to come along and get involved. You could come and do some gardening, planting, harvesting or weeding. Then you could build a den to eat your lunch in and go bug hunting on the orchard; all for free!
Our experienced staff are all fully CRB/DBS checked and first aid trained. The Project Manager holds the Countryside Educational Visits Accreditation Scheme (CEVAS) award, and a Diploma in Play work. We already work with children and young people from different backgrounds who have a range of educational needs. We are friendly and approachable, so children and young people can come to us with ideas or problems and we can put them at their ease. We are flexible and can adapt the method of programme delivery to suit all abilities.
Our twelve acre site has full disabled access, including poly-tunnels, hand-wash station and composting toilet. The site has a locked gate for security and offers under-cover facilities to ensure a successful visit in all weather conditions. Comprehensive risk assessments, health and safety procedures and child protection policies are in place.
At Your Venue
The staff at Saffron Acres are available to offer help and advice at your venue. We can get involved in constructing a growing space, running sessions, and giving talks. Prices start from £40. Please contact us for more information.
If you have a ‘green idea’ that you need space to try out – we might be able to accommodate you. Please get in touch.
For more information or to get involved please contact the SAP Team on
0116 2837212 or email