We are donating our entire pumpkin harvest to community kitchens

This Halloween, in collaboration with local restaurant Sam’s Riverside, we are donating our entire harvest of pumpkins and squashes as part of an autumnal pumpkin and coconut soup kit for local community kitchens and food educators.

Image: pumpkins and squashes harvested from the Kitchen Garden at Chiswick House & Gardens by Andre Pattenden

The soup project forms part of our commitment to donate as much produce as we sell. In 2023, we have donated more than 650kg of produce harvested from our Kitchen Garden, the equivalent of 1,500 meals.

The Kitchen Garden Pumpkin and Coconut Soup Kit contains a recipe card and all the ingredients needed to make the soup, developed by Sam’s Riverside’s Head Chef Jacob Keen Downs. The pumpkins and other fresh vegetables and herbs have been harvested from our 17th century Kitchen Garden and the coconut milk and recipe cards have been donated by Sam’s Riverside.

Kitchen Gardener Gabby McKenzie explains:

We put a lot of thought into our food donations and try to pair up seasonal produce in a way that might be cooked together to make tasty and nutritious meals. We already supply vegetables, herbs and edible flowers to Sam’s Riverside, so it was a natural choice to approach them to collaborate on this project.

Image: Kitchen Gardeners Gabby McKenzie and Lauren Jennings preparing a soup kit for collection.

The 50 soup kits are being donated to community kitchens and food educators locally and across London and will serve more than 500 people. With some of the pumpkins and squashes weighing as much as 7kg, organisations such as Surplus to Supper, The Felix Project and Tooting Community Kitchen, who are already set up to cook and distribute food in bulk, were selected as a good fit for this project. Food educators Hackney School of Food, a partner organisation with the Trust’s community programme, have also received soup kits to support their important work.

Eleven different varieties of pumpkin and squash, ranging in size, shape and colour, have been harvested from our Kitchen Garden this year. The crop includes reliable favourites such as Butternut, Crown Prince and North Georgia Candy Roaster, as well as visually stunning and great tasting smaller squash including Blue Banana, Uchi Kuri, Honeyboat, Sweet Dumpling, Tuffy and Juane de Verte.

Sam Harrison, founder of Sam’s Riverside, said:

There’s some really fabulous produce around at this time of year, like the wonderful variety of autumnal pumpkins and squash grown at Chiswick House & Gardens. While many of us associate pumpkins with Halloween decorations, we’d be amiss to let the holiday pass by without highlighting their versatility and incredible flavour.

Image: the ingredients for the autumn soup ready for collection

Our Community Kitchen Gardener, Lauren Jennings, selected and grew the diverse crop along with a team of volunteers. Lauren said:

With so many varieties of squash to choose from, it’s quite a task to know what to grow. I look for taste, reliability and high yield. It’s a combination of what we know works well and trying something new.

Sam Harrison added:

Our Head Chef Jacob has written an easy-to-follow recipe, inspired by the produce grown in the Kitchen Garden. Together with Chiswick House & Gardens Trust we are donating the recipe and ingredients to local community kitchens to support the important work they do. We hope this comforting recipe will also inspire others to reduce their food waste and instead transform their pumpkins and squash into something delicious with this Halloween!

The Kitchen Garden Pumpkin and Coconut Soup will feature on the menu at Sam’s Riverside and Sam’s Larder during Halloween week. The recipe card can be downloaded here for anyone to try at home.

We donate at least half of our Kitchen Garden produce to local food charities such as the Felix Project and Surplus to Supper. The remaining fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and herbs are available for sale from our Conservatory Shop or sold to commercial partners such as Sam’s to supply Sam’s Kitchen in Hammersmith and Sam’s Larder sites in Brentford and Chiswick.

The Kitchen Garden is open Thursday-Sunday, 11am–4pm until 29 October, when it closes for winter. Free entry for our Members.

Autumnal produce from our Kitchen Garden is available to purchase from the pink bike located at the Chiswick House & Gardens Café, from 11am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, while stocks last. 10% discount for our Members.

Sam’s Riverside is open Monday-Saturday Noon–9.45pm and Sunday Noon–4pm. Sam’s Kitchen is open daily 8am–3pm. Sam’s Larders are open daily from 8am.