At the Blackthorn Trust we run various workshops for social therapeutic benefit, including the herb workshop. This particular workshop includes growing, harvesting, drying and preparing herbs which are then sold as tea, cook’s ingredients, massage oil, vinegar and herb oil.

Harry came to the Blackthorn Trust to develop his confidence and self-esteem, and to learn new skills. During his time at the Blackthorn Trust, he developed a strong interest in making and selling artisan products such as herb oils, breads and teas. We asked Harry to share with us his thoughts, experiences and his plans for the future.

What did you enjoy about being in the herb workshop?

It was nice to work outdoors, particularly in the warmer months. I really liked going through the process, from harvesting to assembling the products. It felt like the equivalent of a chef growing produce in a garden and then making a meal from it – an end-to-end process.

Every week we did something different, and I enjoyed the combination of working inside and outdoors. It was good to work with the friendly and knowledgeable workshop leaders.

Have the skills you learnt in the herb workshop carried over into other areas of your life?

I tried to grow some chillies at home last year, but unfortunately they died. I have developed a greater appreciation for herbs and their versatile flavours. I have discovered that you can put coriander in a cake, and I’v’e used rosemary too. I will be attempting to grow more chillies this year, as well as coriander.

What are the key things you have learnt from the workshop?

I learnt that if you take your time and handle everything with care you can produce really nice things. Lots of the herbs and flowers are delicate, but they can make the biggest difference to the appearance and flavour of the products

Recently I weeded the area around the lemon balm, and it has grown a lot since then. It helped me to realize that if you give something nurture and space it can grow.

Finally, I got a big sense of achievement from making the herbs and then seeing people buy them.

What’s next for you?

I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with combining different flavours, rather than making standard everyday recipes, and ultimately I would like a job making specialist food products.