The allotment, created on waste ground, is the latest large-scale community project supported by Jaguar Land Rover’s Solihull manufacturing plant. The scheme aims to provide fresh produce to people in and around Solihull and Birmingham who live in food poverty. It builds on the plant’s existing relationship with Gro Organic – an organisation dedicated to creating green spaces while providing social and economic opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged people in the region.
Dave Owen, Operations Director at Jaguar Land Rover Solihull, said: “I was saddened to read that 100,000 children in Birmingham live in food poverty*, so when the opportunity came to expand our partnership with Gro-Organic and create a community allotment, I knew the whole team would want to support it.
“Employee volunteering is really important to Jaguar Land Rover and this project provides an ideal opportunity to support the education, health and wellbeing of our workforce while providing enough fresh, seasonal produce for 400 meals in its first year”.
A team of volunteers overhauled the plot last winter, clearing years of overgrowth, erecting a polytunnel, and building raised beds to prepare for its first full year of growing. With the expert advice from Gro-Organic and funding from Jaguar Land Rover’s Social Impact Fund, the allotment will grow everything from runner beans to raspberries, making up seasonal food boxes for families across the region. Advice and recipes will accompany the food boxes depending on the harvest and a hand built earth oven on the plot will also allow beneficiaries to enjoy their crop as soon as it is picked.
The produce will be distributed via various food bank initiatives including the Real Junk Food Project, Free Food Friday and the newly launched Incredible Edible Network in Solihull.
Sarah Gill, CEO of Gro-Organic, who officially opened the allotment said: “Jaguar Land Rover has worked tirelessly over the last four years to support Gro-Organic and the communities we serve, including a vehicle and trailer donation in 2017. Since then we’ve been oversubscribed with families needing our support and finding plots of land to obtain the yields we need to support these communities can be difficult.
“Jaguar Land Rover assisted to negotiate terms for a significant plot of land that will produce high food yields and provide opportunities for local vulnerable people to develop skills in food growing while also donating their time to help us design, plan, develop and maintain a space for a sustainable community food project with the potential to reach all corners of the borough”.
In addition to providing food to the local community and wellbeing and education opportunities to the Solihull workforce, Jaguar Land Rover’s allotment will also support a new ‘Moat-ivation’ work experience programme for 16 to 24-year-olds which improves employability prospects and allows participants to gain a qualification in horticulture and landscaping.
This project is just one of Jaguar Land Rover’s many small and large scale community initiatives around the world being delivered as part of its ongoing Responsible Business programme. Central to delivery are employee volunteers who can take two days every year to give back to their communities. Last year more than 70,000 volunteering hours were dedicated to global projects.
*Source: The Birmingham Child Poverty Commission report.