Teesside-based autism charity is growing more than just produce, by supporting autistic adults to develop employability skills through its allotment which is undergoing organic certification.
Daisy Chain has launched an initiative to provide autistic young people and adults with the skills and experiences required to secure meaningful employment, addressing the autism employability gap.
Based at its main site in Norton, Stockton on Tees, Daisy Chain’s allotment has grown significantly in the last few years, providing valuable enterprise opportunities in addition to a variety of support. The support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery through funds awarded by Postcode Children Trust has been integral to the development and growth of the horticulture initiative.
The project is the definition of produce with purpose, with proceeds from sales ploughed back into frontline autism services. From 14 varieties of tomato to kale, cucumbers and chard, the organisation is currently supplying fresh local produce to restaurants, a local butcher shop, and its own coffee shop, based at Daisy Chain Charity Superstore in Stockton.
Michael Daley, Business Development Manager said: “We are delighted to offer autistic adults the opportunity to experience everything from the basics of growing crops to sowing, harvesting and selling produce.
“Statistics show it can be very difficult for autistic adults to gain meaningful employment – we are delighted to be developing innovative solutions to address the autism employment gap and shine a light on autism talent with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.”
An autistic adult, Tom, has just completed his horticulture placement. He said: “I loved everything about my placement. It enabled me to do something I enjoy around my other commitments and I’ve received amazing support throughout.
“I definitely feel happier than I did before, and would urge anyone considering doing something similar to go for it! You won’t regret it. I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to keep volunteering when I go to college.”
Daisy Chain expects to complete its organic certification in 2023/24 and plans for the future include a vegetable box scheme where members of the community will be able to purchase fresh produce weekly. Free taster sessions are available for autistic young people and adults, and there are volunteering opportunities open to all.
If you’re an autistic or neurodivergent adult who is interested in finding out more about placement opportunities in Daisy Chain’s gardens and allotments, email email@example.com
If you are a business or individual that would like to find out more about supporting the project, email Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org. There are a wealth of volunteering opportunities available.
Picture caption: (L-R) Michael Daley, Business Development Manager and Lisa Rennison, Horticulture Development Lead in one of Daisy Chain’s polytunnels.