Community spirit at Edinburgh botanic garden
23 September 2011
The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh is opening its gates to community gardeners with an allotment-style garden aimed at getting more people growing their own food.
The Edible Gardening Project, funded by the People's Postcode Lottery, gives a dedicated plot to communities from across the city to learn basic gardening skills and get advice for the first time in the Botanic Garden's 340-year history.
'There hasn't been a culture of gardening with and for the people here: it's a very fundamental change to our whole way of looking at things,' said Ian Edwards, who is running the project. 'It's got to be bottom up: with community projects you've got to let the people in to make some of the decisions and come up with some of the ideas.'
The 1.5ha (3.7 acre) site is divided up into vegetable plots, similar to an allotment site although individual plots are smaller than the traditional 10-rod allotment. Teams of volunteers take care of maintaining each one, with some cared for by horticultural students during term-time. Two local primary schools have also taken plots.
The public can visit the plot whenever the Garden is open, to ask questions and pick up practical skills from staff and volunteers. There will also be drop-in sessions at the Gateway Visitors Centre where visitors can find out how to sow seeds, plant hanging baskets and other edible gardening techniques.
It's hoped the project can spread outside the Botanic Garden, too, by helping to develop new growing spaces in schools, shared gardens, windowboxes and containers.