Gibby’s Italian Mince with home grown green beans

Gibby has been volunteering twice a week for over a year at the Maxwell garden. He always makes us happy with his cheerful self and is ready to get stuck into any job. Another important fact about Gibby, he never says no to cake!

We have interviewed Gibby to find out more about his story, what brought him to the garden and which vegetables he enjoys most from the garden for growing and cooking.


Gibby back in the days and now!

I’ve lived in Dundee all my life, and the same for my parents. We moved around various neighbourhoods whilst I was growing up, started at Anfield Road and then moved to Fintry when I was 1-2 years old. After that we lived in Kirkton, my parents were probably offered better houses.

My mother worked as a waitress first and then at a shoe shop in the Wellgate but then she had to stop to look after us, that’s how it was. I have one brother and two sisters, one of them lives in Douglas and has triplets! 

I started working at Watson and Philip, food importers- cash and carry in Dundee but the pay wasn’t very good. My dad was a head shop steward, a big gun at Michelin, and I realized I could earn about 3 times more working there. The first 25 years were very good but after that they started cutting breaks and it wasn’t so good, they got too strict.

Gibby’s cabbage patch


I had cancer and it was really bad, I really thought I wouldn’t get through it, I was on morphine for severe pain. It changes your life, I realized I wanted to give back to the community.

Chatting at the pub with Andy and Phil who were both involved with the Maxwell Centre, they suggested volunteering at the garden. It was the first time I’ve done gardening, it makes you feel so good, relaxed, feeling the sun but also knowing you are doing something useful.


Gibby’s friendly hedgehog and growing beans and tomatoes in his flat

Gibby has done all sorts of jobs around the garden, sowing, planting out, harvesting, etc. He also has a little protected patch which he is tending to where he is growing garlic, cabbages and sprouting broccoli.

I love the tomatoes in the garden and tried growing them myself during lockdown. I haven’t grown potatoes yet but I want to do that. I also love red roses! But my favourite place in the garden is the frog pond, I just like frogs!

I have harvested from the garden and also grown at home on my window sill this year green beans and I have used these in my mums Italian mince recipe. She has always cooked it for us since we were young and we keep it going because its good.



500 g of pasta

200 g of minced beef

2 cloves of garlic,

1 onion,

200 g of green beans

2 tins of vegetable soup (or just use tomato passata)

Optional (chili powder, paprika and turmeric, or dried herbs like oregano and mixed herbs)

Sauté the garlic and onion in some oil, add the meat and stir until nearly cooked

Add the beans and tomato passata or tinned soup and spices and herbs.

Leave to finish cooking and add to the boiled pasta.

Published by manuelagrows

Community garden mentor at the Maxwell Centre

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