Saffron Acres is an award-winning open space in the centre of the Saffron Lane estate, managed by Saffron Lane Neighbourhood Council for the benefit of local people. When we took it over in 2006, it was disused land, and we quickly set about revitalising it so that we could provide funded work placements and volunteering opportunities enabling 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 Saffron Acres 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, poly tunnels and lots of vegetable beds. All our visitors help to maintain these, making the project a real community effort.
This innovative project not only results in fantastic local produce but it also offers work experience and skills training for up to fifty young adults with learning difficulties, along with a cohort of local unemployed people and the National Citizen Service
The six 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.
We work with volunteers from a range of agencies including schools, colleges and universities, children’s centres, 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 sessions every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and other opportunities are available all week by appointment. At our volunteering sessions we are especially pleased to welcome families. Come along and do some gardening, planting, harvesting or weeding; then build a den and go bug hunting on the orchard – all for free!
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.
It is 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. Why not experience our sensory garden and wildlife walk for example? 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 and we have a selection of raised beds that are designed to be accessible for wheelchair users. Our composting toilet is fully accessible too.
We can give advice on continuing a healthy lifestyle at home too. 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 a fun way to get out of your house and meet new people. Seeing things grow is a great experience and encourages people to visit again, just to see how the smallest of the tomato plants is coming along! We have at least one quiet day each week so if you would like to visit at a quieter time – just let us know.
Our staff are also available to offer help and advice at your venue. We can get involved in planning a growing space, running sessions, and giving talks.
For more information on any of the opportunities available at Saffron Acres, please contact us