Growing more than just fruit and veg

Community cafes , foodbanks and other outlets which provide training opportunities for vulnerable adults are springing up everywhere these days.

Monday, 9th May 2016, 10:28 am
Updated Monday, 9th May 2016, 11:30 am
Chesterfield Mayor and Mayoress visit the Big Red Food Shed, Brimington. Pictured with the Mayor are volunteers and beneficiaries
Chesterfield Mayor and Mayoress visit the Big Red Food Shed, Brimington. Pictured with the Mayor are volunteers and beneficiaries

And national figures make a good case for such enterprises.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development cites finding employment as ‘the single most important factor in reducing reoffending, cutting the rate by between a third and a half’.

Whlie Mencap research shows that 65 per cent of people with a learning disability want to work and make highly valued employees.

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Such an enterprise in Brimington is attracting more and more attention for its innovative work with a number of vulnerable groups, including ex-offenders, people on probation the unemployed, people with learning disabilities and those with mental and physical ill health.

Big Red Food Shed is a project headed up by a dedicated group of people who have come together to grow food for the local community, using innovative methods, such as a raised bed system and a polytunnel which enable high yields from small spaces.

Produce such as vegetables, salads, fruit and herbs are then sold at the farm shop.

But where Big red Food Shed really excels is in its unique offering of skills provision.

A spokesman said: “We provide a safe space for developing confidence and improving health and well-being through gardening and growing food for the community.

“People come from all over Derbyshire and some from South Yorkshire because we offer an atmosphere which is non-threatening and respectful.

“We do not refer to our volunteers by their needs and you will never hear us use the phrase ‘ex-con’.”

Big Red Food Shed works in partnership with Derbyshire Probation Service’s Community Payback Scheme.

And its staff and directors have a specialist knowledge of supporting vulnerable members of the community - with years of experience between them working in local and county government departments.

The company also works closely with Derbyshire Community Health Trust to ensure they are best placed to help volunteers engage with ecological and horticultural work.

Big Red Food Shed is now planning to refine its skills provision with SkillUp courses starting this Summer aimed at providing skills and experience at different levels which enable volunteers to be more employable, socially connected and improving their health and happiness.

The organisation is able to help with a variety of problems.

To find out more about Big red Food Shed visit www.bigredfoodshed.co.uk or follow them on Facebook.