Edible garden for care home

Every now and then I will post a real feel good, kind and touching story. Today I’m sharing the story below, enjoy:

Blooming marvellous garden for North Belfast Care Home


Multi award winning Peninsula Care Services, Northern Ireland’s leading domiciliary care, nursing and recruitment agency has gifted a memory garden in one of their valued clients’ care homes, Clifton Nursing Home in Belfast.  

MD for Peninsula, Jonny Cook, commissioned author of ‘Sow, Grow, Munch’ and edible gardener Jilly Dougan to design a sensory garden filled with a variety of perennial herbs, an edible garden, lush with rosemary, thyme, fennel, parsley, salad leaves, spring onions, strawberries, rhubarb and a mini orchard as a haven of peace for the elderly people living in Clifton Nursing Home.

The garden was officially unveiled yesterday by The Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Mary Ellen Campbell, who praised Peninsula’s initiative and generous gift to the care home. She says;

“Clifton Nursing Home’s memory garden is a very innovative and worth-while initiative and encourages the residents to spend more time in the fresh air, take pride in watching their garden flourish and even taste the fruits of their labour. The care home’s chef Brian White made a delicious rhubarb crumble that we all sampled today, using fresh garden rhubarb. The pride in the residents’ faces was priceless and there were lots of smiles all round.”

Jonny Cook says;

“This has been a particularly exciting project for Peninsula as we always endeavour to give something back to our clients. The garden will bring joy for years and will hopefully bring a lot of horticultural therapy and enjoyment to the residents. Jilly Dougan did a fantastic job and we’re very proud of the beautiful and productive edible garden.”

Jilly says;

“There is a lot of evidence to support the therapeutic qualities and benefits of gardening with older people, especially those living with dementia. The gentle exercise helps to relieve stress and the sensory garden stimulates a lot of memories as older people may remember growing the herbs and fruit when they were young. The taste is more vibrant and nutritious too and the herbs will also flower and become a source of nectar for pollinators.”

Stuart Johnstone, manager of Clifton Nursing Home, is delighted with the project. He says,

“The transformation of our garden is amazing, thanks to Jonny and his team at Peninsula Care Services. Residents derive real calm and serenity from having access to such a beautiful garden and the aroma and tastes conjures up a lot of good nostalgic memories. Jilly Dougan did an excellent job and has cleverly designed the garden within the existing raised beds, hence the residents have easy access and they love being out in the fresh air. They particularly love picking the rhubarb and feel that they are helping the chef prepare the evening meals. The garden has given the residents a new lease of life, thanks to the memory garden; an excellent gift from Peninsula.”

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Interview with Greggs Area Manager

Yesterday I had the pleasure of having a cup of coffee with Mr Michael McAllister, the Area Manager for Greggs in NI. Michael joined in March this year, after spending 23 years working for Asda. He is a local man and understands the NI economy and tastes well. We met at the Boucher Crescent store which opened in March this year. These stand alone shops are independent of the ones in the Applegreen service stations.


Mr John Gregg started in 1941 as Gregss of Gosforth in Gosforth High Street, Newcastle-U-Tyne. That was the 1st shop (round the corner from where I lived at University and I was a regular!!). His son took over and embarked on a massive expansion. There are now approximately 1900 stores across the UK. Here there are 3 so far (Royal Avenue, Boucher Crescent and Dargan) with a big 44 seater opening mid September in Castle Lane and then a big 44 seater in Donegal Square West with Head Quarters upstairs, later in the year. The third generation Mr Gregg is also in the family run firm. 

Michael was telling me that thrice a week they receive deliveries of frozen savouries, pastries and bread and baguette dough from their Clydesmill bakery in Edinburgh. The bread and baguettes are baked fresh every day and made into delicious sandwiches and filled baguettes using pre planned recipes with strict measures of locally sourced ingredients. These are all planned by the Technical Team in the Lake District, who also look at allergens, nutritional values and ingredients. They have developed Healthy Choice sandwiches at less than 400 calories and are launching the same in savouries soon.


As a big National Company Greggs take Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously. They have embarked on several initiatives:

The first is Breakfast Club for Schools. Each store would choose a school (which meets certain criteria) to help and would supply them with bread, fruit etc for their breakfast. In the case of the Boucher Crescent store the school is St Joseph’s Primary and the Head would come pick up thrice a week. Michael would also pay them a visit. He was very proud to announce as a result of this initiative the attendance has gone up by 75%!!!!
The second is at the end of the day’s trading any unused products are packed and given to their nominated charity, which is Home Trust NI. 
After our Fairtrade coffee which was delicious, Michael presented me with my favourite Greggs product, a chicken bake and a cheese and onion bake for my wife and a selection of donuts. The bakes didn’t take last long and were delicious and the donuts went down a treat with a cuppa tea, my favourite was the caramel one. Greggs will do well in NI, they cater for everyone from breakfast, tea breaks, lunch, snacks, parties and evening meals. Their pricing structure is excellent and their staff training and care is brilliant. There is also an app for Greggs and stores have free wifi voted best on the high street. Point of note the savoury display units are lit up and are for display purposes only, they do not keep the savouries hot, as we in NI are used to. The staff do a sterling job of baking little and often. I would like to thank Michael and the team at Boucher for the time and the treats!!