From car park to community kitchen
Built in the former car park of Rhyl Community Primary School, converting the space into a food garden and then four years later, a commercially equipped kitchen, proved a long and difficult journey for Tom. Over the last six years £200,000 has been raised to turn this vision into a reality. The fundraising started with a sponsored bike ride to Paris, which has now grown into an annual event arriving at cities such as Amsterdam and Bruges. The goal was eventually reached through a complex jigsaw of funding, from grants to individual donations, a pop-up restaurant and more, which shows the extent of local buy-in for the project.
In addition to raising funds, Tom turned his hand to all aspects of running the project. “I’ve become an expert in so many different subjects that I never thought I would learn about – everything from architecture and commercial kitchen design, to grant writing and kitchen flooring. Finally, we’ve fulfilled our dream, and we’re immensely proud,” he says.
An asset for the students of Rhyl Primary School
Ultra-processed foods count for over half of total energy intake in the UK diet, and for people living in cities, the opportunities to connect with the ways in which food is grown, or where it comes from, are few and far between.
For the children, this project brings lots of benefits. As part of their lessons, pupils graze their way around the garden, picking up the flavours and tastes of different plants – as well as learning plant names – before taking ingredients inside to cook with. From experience, Tom has found this environment helps set the children on a path to a more adventurous palate. “A child can be fussy at home, but in the garden they’re eating raw courgettes, flowers, and watching hoverflies. It blows their mind,” he says.
There is also an impact on waste reduction, as pupils learn to prize what they have grown, as well as gaining a better appreciation for the natural world around them. “What the children gain from working here is they start to appreciate all those fantastic moments of wonder around the natural environment – they start to tune into the weather, the wildlife, the colour,” Tom says.
Visit Rhyl Kitchen Classroom
Rhyl Kitchen Classroom is at the very start of building a really exciting and varied community programme around this space, in hopes that everyone will find an event that they will want to tap into in the future. Go visit the space on an open day and let the team show you around or have a look at their Instagram for updates.