Biggleswade chef cultivating kitchen garden in St John's Hospice grounds

The kitchen garden is a work in process – with donated produce being added

By Jo Robinson
Tuesday, 5th July 2022, 5:12 pm

A Biggleswade chef is cultivating a kitchen garden in the St John's Hospice grounds around her shifts, with the aim of producing more ‘hospice home-grown homemade’ meals for patients.

Sandra Galton, 56, joined the Sue Ryder team last year and had the tasty idea of growing the hospice's own vegetables, fruit and herbs to give a wholesome, flavoursome ‘garnish’ to meals made for patients.

“When I first joined the charity someone mentioned to me there used to be a kitchen garden in the grounds, but over the years it has been lost,” Sandra shared.

Green-fingered Sandra Galton. Photo: Sue Ryder St John's Hospice.

“I have always wanted to become more green-fingered but I haven’t got a garden at home as I live in flat. I hope I will get just as much enjoyment from the kitchen garden as our patients will.”

From this seedling of an idea, Sandra put a call out to hospice colleagues for donations of seeds and plants to get the garden started and she was inundated with donations, which are now growing in the hospice kitchen garden looking out onto the beautiful open fields of Moggerhanger.

She said: “I have had so many offers of plants and seeds which have come through which is brilliant but I would really value some volunteer kitchen gardeners to help.

“Everyone is welcome. It would be great to have you! We’re currently establishing what is already here and adding to it. We could do with some compost for our VegTrug too!”

Sandra is currently tending to the garden around her shifts in the hospice kitchen, but hopes people will come forward to volunteer in the hospice gardens to help the kitchen garden grow.

So far Sandra has planted peas, beetroot, spring onions, carrots, radishes and assortment of lettuces and some spinach.

She says the kitchen garden will be an ‘organic process’ as she plans to plant any produce as it is donated.

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“I don’t have a wish list of things we want to grow,” she said. “We’re just going along with it as donations arrive. I have been given some cherry tomatoes recently, which we have put in the greenhouse – whatever comes in we will have a go at growing it!”

Involving patients in all aspects of the care and services given by Sue Ryder is a priority for the charity, and Sandra says this includes at meal times too.

“We are led by what our patients request and if we don’t know how to make something we will Google it and give it a try! Traditional, real, home-cooked food is what people mostly crave and we want to deliver on that. The most popular thing we are being asked for currently it is bread and butter pudding!”

Sandra hopes the fruit (and vegetables and herbs) of her labour will be a boost to patients’ wellbeing too.

“I can’t wait for the day when we can share our menus with our patients and say ‘we have fresh peas from the garden today!’”

If you think you can support Sandra in tending the Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice kitchen garden find out more about gardening volunteer opportunities at the hospice by visiting the Sue Ryder website or emailing: [email protected]

For more information on Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice visit: www.sueryder.org/stjohns