FRESH local produce are the buzzwords of any decent eaterie. But at The Eagle and Child in Ramsbottom the produce couldn’t be fresher or more local because it’s grown in the pub garden.

Lettuce, chard, spinach, courgette, pumpkins, apples, Kiwi and every conceivable herb – the mint is used for delicious home-made mint sauce as the perfect roast lamb accompaniment – is sown, tended and nurtured in the allotment garden and mini orchard.

But The Eagle and Child isn’t just an award-winning pub, it’s a social enterprise business. Behind the warm welcome and friendly banter, landlord, Glen Duckett has established a scheme which is tackling the more serious issue of youth unemployment in East Lancashire.

Glen, 35, is so passionate about helping vulnerable and under-privileged youngsters in the area, that he has formed ‘EAT Pennines’ – an initiative which has created training and employment opportunities for underprivileged and vulnerable children aged 14 and over.

Through partnerships with Bury College, NACRO and Hopwood Hall College, Glen recruits and trains youths wanting a start in the hospitality industry. Since launching the scheme in 2011, he has employed 16 people under 25 – seven of whom have moved onto further employment, and a further seven who remain at the Eagle and Child, as they work towards a nationally recognised qualification. “I do a lot of work with youngsters who are struggling to get into work and manage to get themselves into trouble.

“Over the summer several trainees completed the qualification, one got a full time job and, sadly, one went to prison, even though he passed the qualification.

“That’s the nature of the people with whom we are dealing.

“Hopefully, he will be able to use the qualification when he’s released. We all have to make a living and I enjoy imparting my skills to those who may not have the opportunities that I’ve had.

“It’s also good to instil a work ethic into people. There is a huge lack of work ethic in this country which is why I’m so passionate about motivating people.”

Combining his interest in education and horticulture, Glen has created the Incredible Edible Beer Garden – which incorporates an outdoor kitchen (comprising a hog roast, BBQ and pizza oven facilities), a polytunnel, vegetable beds, a compost heap, a shed with living roof, a mini orchard with chickens, a giant games chequer board, a safe children’s area and much more.

The garden is a working allotment project, which encourages locals to get involved with growing their own fruit and vegetables.

One of the successful applicants on the scheme is 21-year-old Chris Butterworth who works full time as a kitchen porter at the pub. Chris has responsibility for the junior KPs and keeps the kitchen clean whilst helping chefs to prep food and send out desserts.

Chris left school with “not the best” set of qualifications and didn’t have a clue about a future career. He was struggling to find employment when the opportunity to take part in the scheme appeared.

“It was the best thing that could have happened to me,” he says. “I learned about hospitality. Before I didn’t know how to speak to people properly, but I do now. I helped with the manual work on the garden while learning about stock-taking and all the basic catering skills.

“If I hadn’t done this I’ve no idea what I would have done. I’ve really enjoyed learning. No-one wants to be on Jobseekers for life.”