Kitchen 3 of 5
It’s the aromas that are the giveaway.

Something delicious in the air is always a sign that lunchtime is near and client gardeners are cooking up a storm.

The source of the salivation is a specially adapted kitchen where the cooks, with help from staff and volunteers, rustle up all manner of mouth-watering meals.

The fact that Thrive Reading has a client kitchen is a surprise to many visitors, but it acts as an important extension of the garden and an added therapeutic offering that can be used year-round.

Kitchen prep 2 of 2
Adam gets ready to roast

It’s the place where the seed-to-plate journey comes to fruition, where clients can bring their harvests and work together to transform them into delicious dishes.

In the winter months especially, the kitchen comes into its own, producing hearty soups and stews, as well as tasty sweet treats that would do the Great British Bake-Off proud.

Kitchen 4 of 5
Beetroot was a key ingredient for these brownies

Life skills

The kitchen is a valuable learning space, says Social and Therapeutic Horticulture Practitioner Julia Smith: ‘Being able to cook is an important life-skill that many of our client gardeners can benefit from and use in their own homes.

‘Spending time in the kitchen offers them the chance to learn new ways to cook vegetables and fruit they have grown and make tasty and nutritious meals.

Kitchen prep 1 of 2
Leo preparing pancakes

'They also gain transferable skills through the process of cooking and baking, such as food hygiene, using equipment and weighing ingredients.’

The kitchen was built to a high spec and has two hobs, three sinks, and two large island worktops that are all height-adjustable, ideal for those using wheelchairs, plus two standalone ovens.

As well as multiple cupboards clearly labelled for pots, pans and cooking utensils, there are big fridges and freezers for storing produce picked from the gardens.

Kitchen 2 of 5
Sussing out the ingredients for the next baking project

There’s even equipment to squeeze and press apples from the orchard and make delicious fresh juice, an activity that’s a firm autumnal favourite.

Client gardener Carly lists soups, leek and potato pie, pesto pasta and fruit crumbles among the food that she has helped produce: ‘One of the best things I helped make was beetroot brownies,’ she recalls proudly.

‘It’s good to be able to cook more things from the garden,’ says Carly, whose Thrive kitchen experience has led to her cooking more at home.

‘In the kitchen you’ve got to concentrate when you’re measuring things out, using the hob, working out how lot things take to cook. It’s fun but you’ve got to use your brain.’

Kitchen 1 of 5
Carly and the beetroot brownie bake

If you are interested in finding out if coming to Thrive is suitable for you or someone you know, contact us for an initial discussion.

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