Lockdown leads to new focus on local food at Attenborough Nature Center cafe
Like many local businesses, the team behind one of the UK’s most popular wildlife destinations has had to adapt to the challenges thrown down by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown.
Upon reopening after closure during the main lockdown period, the team at Attenborough Nature Centre began offering a range of locally produced staples including bread, milk and eggs to customers either struggling to find items elsewhere or looking to avoid queuing to get into supermarkets.
As the Centre, operated by local charity Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, continues to adapt the team have agreed a new direction for its retail offer; with a new permanent Farm Shop range designed to showcase products from local food growers and artisan producers.
The new retail range builds on work done over the past 18 months by the catering team, led by Catering Manager James Jaques, to transform the menu for its busy café with an increasing focus on locally produced items ranging from indulgent ‘Beeston Brownies’ to award winning handmade vegan pies produced just 5 miles up the River Erewash in Ilkeston.
The new Farm Shop range, to be launched Friday 28th August, will celebrate the best of food produced in and inspired by the Nottinghamshire countryside and neighboring counties and Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust believes that the focus on local produce reflects its environmental objectives and local roots.
Set up by local volunteers in 1963, the Trust emerged from a local campaign to protect the wildlife of the then Attenborough Gravel pits and almost 60 years on the charity is still guided by local trustees. The charity cares for over 1500 hectares of the Nottinghamshire countryside and over 20 years ago established a conservation grazing programme with heritage and rare breed sheep and cattle. It also works with dozens of local farmers to make their land more welcoming to wildlife.
The Trust is now keen to build on its decades managing land and supporting farmers by showcasing local growers and artisan manufacturers at the Attenborough Nature Centre.
We see our increasing focus on local produce as a natural reflection of our local roots.Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Trading Ltd
Speaking about the new range James said: “Having seen the positive reaction to the local produce introduced to the café menu and the range of produce offered for retail sale during lockdown we felt that the time was right to strengthen the connection between our catering and retail offers. We see our increasing focus on local produce as a natural reflection of our local roots. Much of our success relates to our locality and the support of local visitors. Our staff and volunteers live locally too and we’re delighted that we can now champion and support local growers and producers as well celebrating the wildlife on our doorstep.”
The new range will include products from existing suppliers such as Vorkpie & Bluebell Dairy (Derby) alongside artisan breads and cheese produced on the Welbeck Estate in the historic Nottinghamshire Dukeries, decadent Oxton Liquers produced in the heart of Nottinghamshire and flour from Green’s Mill, in Sneinton - close the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust’s headquarters.
James added: “Since the 1960s we’ve been celebrating the wildlife that people can see, hear and experience on their doorstep and now we’re able to champion the foods and drink made in the local landscape too.”
The range is being launched just in time for visitors to pick up some delicious treats to savour over the Bank Holiday weekend and will include fruit grown, harvested or foraged in Nottinghamshire, honey produced in Wollaton and Brockleby pies from Melton Mowbray.
Attenborough Nature Reserve, situated just 2 miles from Beeston Town Centre and only 6 miles from Nottingham, is one of the UK’s most popular wildlife destinations in the UK. Whilst wildlife enthusiasts might come hoping to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher others visit to simply spend time with family and friends in a relaxing natural setting. Since 2005 Attenborough Nature Centre has provided a warm welcome for visitors and much of the site’s popularity and enduring charm is due to its location and links with the local community – as well as a great selection of drinks, snacks and meals. The Centre and Shop, which acts as the gateway to the tranquil Attenborough Nature Reserve which covers almost 150 hectares of rich wildlife habitat alongside the River Trent, is currently open between 10.00 & 17.00 with the café serving food between 10.00 & 16.30.
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