Project of the Year - Winner

Thorpe Hall Hospice Community Garden

Thorpe Hall Hospice’s £50,000 kitchen garden project transformed half an acre of wasteland into a fully accessible kitchen garden at little cost to the charity, thanks to partnership working, local businesses and a team of staff and volunteers.

In its first year the garden has been tended by patients, bereavement support groups, volunteers and staff, and been used for rehabilitation, reflection and relaxation.

It’s become a community hub: volunteers, students and payback teams engage in maintenance and specific development projects, while businesses regularly provide staff to work in the garden as part of charity partnerships or corporate social responsibility projects. 

The kitchen garden produces vegetables, salad and fruit for use in the hospice’s kitchen. Produce is already being sold in our on-site shop and, in future, a new farm shop here at Thorpe Hall will sell excess produce.

The vision for the kitchen garden was to enable Thorpe Hall to lead change – developing as a centre of excellence in eco therapy, which is emerging as a powerful tool in supporting people’s health and wellbeing, and to add a further strand to our strategy to support staff and volunteer resilience.  

Two volunteers took on project management, working with Head of Support Services Martin Russell and the horticultural therapist from Headway Cambridgeshire (which rents space at Thorpe Hall).

The fundraising team worked with established and new corporate partners to secure gifts in kind worth £11,415 and an incredible 160 volunteers to carry out the work needed to transform the space. They provided the equivalent of £35,808 of labour and are now involved on an ongoing basis – a great example of commercial acumen. 

Thorpe Hall’s gardener and gardening volunteers now manage the space, and are planning further developments, including the creation of a heritage orchard for which funding has been secured.

The kitchen garden has delivered:

  • improved facilities where Thorpe Hall’s day service clients and Headway can continue and extend activities
  • additional resource to support the resilience of staff and volunteers
  • a high profile because its creation has been covered extensively in the media and the space is a regular stop-off for visitors;  
  • an increase in social capital through the apprentice scheme, including working with the College of West Anglia to provide learning and development projects and community payback volunteers  
  • increased corporate volunteering and monetary support  
  • increased footfall to Thorpe Hall, which has benefited the shop and Coffee Shop  
  • closer relationships with local and national businesses, which are now keen to retain involvement with Thorpe Hall, having invested time and money in the kitchen garden
  • ingredients for patients’ meals and the Coffee Shop.
Thorpe Hall’s vision for the future includes renting the space for garden parties and to other charities wishing their clients to benefit from horticultural therapies; holding garden and produce-based events on site – a traditional Apple Day, for instance; and the opening of a farmers’ market involving other local producers.