9th April 2020

Food / Xanthe Gladstone

The Walled Garden by Xanthe Gladstone

38 4 mins 3

XXanthe’s passion for food and sustainability is infectious. I have rarely met someone who can describe a new compost system with so much glee and rigour. After attending the renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School and graduating from their Sustainable Cooking Course, Xanthe has worked tirelessly to show how a sustainable lifestyle is accessible to all.

An edible garden designer, an organic farmer, a baker and a freelance chef; Xanthe’s aim is to connect us with where our food comes from, to bring communities together around local and organic food.

Hawarden Castle’s Walled Garden was built in the 18th Century to grow fresh produce to provide for the household. Until recently my grandfather was its custodian, this privilege has now been passed onto me. Over the past year, I have been using the space to teach myself to grow vegetables, as part of my career change into food sustainability.

Now I have seen the seasons come and go. It has been magical to watch the colours and smells change with the weather. Watching the trees lose and gain their leaves, understanding nature’s resilience. The garden and its greenhouse are rich in Hawarden Castle’s history, the opportunity I have to reinvigorate this space is so important to me and central to everything that I do.

The Walled Garden’s greenhouse has become a special place for me where I’ve spent many hours. Every time I get back from London, where I cook for a living, I immediately rush back into the greenhouse to check how everything has grown while I’ve been away. Have my plants died? Have my seeds sprouted? What can I eat? I feel like a neurotic mother when I see them again for the first time. I don’t know if this is easy to understand or relate to, but the first group of seeds that sprouted actually made me cry with joy.

It’s an incredible feeling to be able to breathe life back into the Walled Garden. I am working to make it come alive. Alive with plants that will supply local shops, feasts and our pub. Alive with purpose to feed and to teach and to host

Xanthe Gladstone

On March 15th this year, I curated a farmers’ market within the Walled Garden, bringing people into the historic place, to buy and sell and to engage customers with the growers, makers and producers. My belief when it comes to creating a more sustainable food system is that we should look back on our old relationship with food, before the supermarkets were introduced in 1951.

The connection to the farmers that grow our food has been lost, a lot of us don’t care where our food comes from or how it got to us.

We once relied on weekly markets where we bought all our vegetables, fruit, eggs, bread, meat and dairy. It was an opportunity to connect with the producer and socialise with members of the community.

Xanthe Gladstone

This is my aim for the Walled Garden and the events that will happen within it, such as the farmers’ market. I want to bring people together, to build community relationships and to connect people with where their food comes from. My aim is to make local and seasonal food more accessible and bring to light some of the incredible work that small food producers are doing around the country.

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Xanthe Gladstone is Director of Food and Food Sustainability at The Good Life Experience, Glen Dye Cabins and Cottages and custodian of The Walled Garden at Hawarden. Xanthe is our resident organic vegetable grower. She ensures the high standard of all food matters, in terms of organic, local and seasonal across the Good Life Society and works constantly to improve our food sustainability, combatting food waste and increasing transparency.

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