Newtownards Crisis Kitchen cooks up a storm with Bangor Castle’s Walled Garden Produce!

Monday 16th August 2021

Ards and North Down Borough Council is working with Newtownards charity North Down Community Works, known locally as The Warehouse, to allow them to benefit from regular fruit and vegetable donations cultivated in Bangor Castle’s Walled Garden.

5 men including the mayor pose under the bandstand with fresh vegetables harvested from Bangor Castle's Walled Garden

In normal circumstances, the garden produce is sold in North Down Museum with all proceeds donated to the Mayor’s charities. The summer’s Covid-19 restrictions have impacted on this, so the Council’s Parks Service has linked up with The Warehouse to support their Crisis Kitchen.

The charity collects weekly vegetable donations from the Garden along with other produce donated by local supermarkets, food retailers and butchers to cook up nutritious meals for those in need. Each month, the kitchen provides approximately 1,200 – 1,400 food boxes across the Ards and North Down area – the majority of which are distributed by a team of volunteer drivers.

Warehouse Community Team Leader Tracy McVea explained more about the charity’s work: “The Crisis Kitchen has been operating for over 7 years, supporting people all across the Borough. Our meals ensure people have nutritious food every day – and these are not just received by those who are experiencing financial challenges, we also support those who have mental health conditions, the elderly and people who have been victims of domestic violence.

“Over the past 18 months we have seen our food box distribution triple and we had to recruit a full-time chef to meet the demand. It’s a bit like a real-life ‘Ready, Steady, Cook - we never know what food donations we will receive! Having a regular supply of garden produce helps us ensure our meals are full of goodness and bursting with flavour!”

Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks, added:

“The Council’s parks team always do a tremendous job maintaining the Walled Garden and they have ensured that the vegetables flourished under very challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic.

“The is not only a great story of volunteers supporting the community, but also an example of how locally produced food can be of great benefit to the borough”.

The Warehouse offers support to anyone who contacts them – with no referral required. They provide additional food services through a Crisis Store on-site plus a range of other support initiatives, including a ‘Wear ‘n’ Share Clothing scheme. Find out more at https://thewarehousenewtownards.com/

Photograph includes, left to right: Will Murray, Gardener, Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Mark Brooks. Peter Samuel, Volunteer at The Warehouse, Ian Ferguson, Gardener and Jonny Bettes, Horticultural Officer.

(Image: Ian Pedlow)