Sue Ryder Stagenhoe residents get gardening for a homegrown menu

The last year has seen more people than ever making the most of outdoor spaces and heading into their gardens. The residents at Sue Ryder Stagenhoe Neurological Centre are no exception, helping to grow a selection of vegetables in the centre's garden and seeing their homegrown efforts go onto the menu.

A chef picking produce in the Sue Ryder Stagenhoe vegetable plot
Head Chef Scott Ward among the many vegetables grown by Stagenhoe residents

Seeing the fruits of their labours

Residents not only had a hand in choosing which crops were grown in the Stagenhoe vegetable plot this year, they also got involved in the gardening and were delighted to see the fruits of their labours making it onto the menu.

The garden has gone from strength to strength under the watchful eye of recreational therapy assistant Pete Jeffrey and the gardeners have delivered fresh veg to the kitchens for everyone to enjoy.

Planting the seeds

Head of Support Services Kay Kaur-Pressley said: “Pete is very passionate about the garden and enjoys encouraging the residents to plant seeds and look after them. A lot of the residents have been able to support in cultivating those crops, growing potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes and various lettuce and it’s something they have really enjoyed.

“We have been able to offer a large amount of fresh organic produce that we have grown in our gardens on the menus and that’s something I’m really proud of.

“Every week, Pete takes people out to see how the garden is doing and they take the fresh vegetables in for the kitchen. The catering team are fantastic and will use every single item that we grow which is really nice to see.”

Something for everyone

The Stagenhoe catering team of five have been working hard to ensure there is something for everyone on the menu, organising taster sessions for residents and adding the most popular choices, and also improving the offering for vegetarians and diabetics.

Head Chef Scott Ward said: “The residents really appreciate eating the food that has been grown here, especially if they have helped with the gardening. Pete gives me a run down on what he is going to grow and I factor that into the menu planning. We’ve had lots of tomatoes, onions and courgettes which are really versatile and we used the last of the beetroot in a beetroot and goats cheese tart.”

Taster days

Residents also get the opportunity to try different dish ideas made from their homegrown produce, to see what they think of the new culinary creations.

“Usually, we also organise taster days with the activities team,” Scott said, “where we will cook four or five dishes for the new menu and residents come to try them and give their feedback. It’s not always easy because there are 45 residents with different preferences, but I hope there is something for everyone and if someone wants something that isn’t on the menu I will always try and make it for them if I can.”

Regional Neurological Director Sally Davies said: “The staff loved the food taster sessions as much as the residents did. The ability that Scott has to come up with new ideas has had an amazing impact.”

Find out more about Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Stagenhoe, the specialist neurological care they provide and ways you can help to support them.