Hi, I’m Jayne Paget, founder of Erin Grove Preserves. My story begins in my childhood days growing up on the family farm just outside Enniskillen in beautiful Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland.
My grandmother, who was a keen gardener, grew a whole range of fruit and vegetables – we were almost self-sufficient in those days! I remember spending hot summer days picking fruit in the garden, we had strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries and rhubarb. This was then brought into the kitchen where we made jam on the stove. It was her who taught me the craft of making jam and gave me the inspiration to create something truly delicious using just the basic, but the best quality, ingredients. The surplus jam was sold through my aunt’s home bakery in Enniskillen giving me a source of income, but also making me realise that there was a ready market for good quality homemade products.
As I grew older my education took priority and I went to University to study Home Economics, qualifying as a Home Economics teacher. At that stage my focus was on my career and finding a job, I worked as a teacher for several years and also did a stint in catering management, but jam was always in the back of my mind wondering where it would be if I had kept it up. Then, in 2001, an opportunity came along via the Women in Agriculture programme who were offering funding to encourage farming families to diversify into other businesses to generate additional income streams for the farm. Erin Grove was born!
We received funding to renovate some outbuildings into a bespoke commercial kitchen for producing jam. In establishing the business I wanted to maintain the ethos of producing a top quality product using the best quality ingredients to produce a range of products that are simply bursting with colour and flavour and that would give us a point of difference from the mass produced brands. To that end we still make all of our products by hand in small batches in the same way my Grandmother made them on the kitchen stove – we just have more saucepans now!
Indeed, we are still using her recipes today. Along the way we added a range of chutneys and are now producing almost 40 different products. We are also very proud to have won 18 Great Taste Awards proving that our products can compete with the best in the country.
In recent years the food industry in Northern Ireland has enjoyed something of a renaissance; people are a lot more aware now of where their food comes from and the demand for good, locally produced products is growing. Food NI have done a lot of work in promoting this and have done wonders to raise the profile of local Artisan producers, which we are proud to be part of.
Looking ahead we see a whole range of opportunities to develop our business and as Erin Grove continues to grow and evolve we hope you will join us on our journey, because it’s only with your support that small Artisan producers like ourselves can survive.