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Edinburgh’s Housing Developments Thrive with the Rise of Community Gardens

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Housing developments are poised to reap abundant benefits, courtesy of the proliferation of new and expanding community gardens in the capital city.

The Edinburgh Growing Together project began gardening last year after a survey of plots in 2021, and has reported a busy summer with new planters and raised beds being built, water supplies linked up and composting facilities installed across community growing areas. A lot of this work has been conducted by Growing Youth, a social enterprise supported by the council’s Additional Support for Learning Service (ASLS) that educates young people in horticulture and construction. 

Located on the City of Edinburgh Council housing land, work has started on three new growing areas in Hutchison, Broomhouse and Muirhouse. These will feature home-grown fruit and vegetables alongside flowers. They will offer tenants and local people opportunities to learn gardening skills, socialise and benefit from sustainable, affordable food. 

At Hutchison, participants will soon start prepping the area for autumn planting of a forest garden, while over in Broomhouse volunteers have been preparing a wildflower garden.  

Opportunities for local communities to enjoy and use space for food growth in greenspaces is part of the Council’s 20-Minute Neighbourhood strategy, which is designed to support people to live well locally and be able to meet most daily needs within a 20-minute walk or wheel.

On a recent visit to the community backgreens, the Council’s Housing Convener Councillor Jane Meagher and the Chair of Edible Edinburgh, Councillor Katrina Faccenda, met with local growers. They were joined by Greig Robertson, Founding Director of Edible Estates, which is delivering the Growing Together initiative of behalf of the council.  

“What better way to reinvigorate community council estates and work towards net zero carbon than with these beautiful, edible gardens? 

“Edinburgh really is blessed with stunning greenspaces but this project is about helping local people to connect with nature and neighbours in their own communities. We have 46 community gardens across our council housing estates and, while many of them are thriving, others need a little bit of nurturing. That’s where the Edinburgh Growing Together project comes in. 

“From upskilling local people in gardening to seeing community kitchens set up, our Growing Together project is making a real difference to tenants. It has been fantastic to check in on progress and to meet with volunteers in Hutchison. They are doing a tremendous job and I’m sure these gardens will deliver countless benefits for living well locally, in line with our 20 minute neighbourhood approach. Eating good quality nutritious food doesn’t have to cost us, or the earth.” 

Councillor Jane Meagher, Housing, Homelessness and Fair Work Convener

“These community gardens are a brilliant way to brighten up our estates while helping tenants access nutritious, budget-friendly ingredients. It links into the diverse range of work being undertaken by the council, our partners and the third sector to tackle food insecurity and improve the sustainability of food, and it’s a joy to see meet those involved in establishing and nurturing these new gardens. 

“As part of the project, improvements are also being made to six existing gardens which are managed by the council plus nine gardens which are run by local community groups, with support also being provided to the remaining gardens in a variety of ways.” 

Councillor Katrina Faccenda, Chair of Edible Edinburgh

These projects are being delivered by Edible Estates, funded by the City of Edinburgh Council, with support from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. 

“Community gardens are a valuable resource to communities, they support individual and community well-being, promote physical activity, create new connections between folk, and of course grow fruit and veg. They are a ‘place’ and an activity, and play an important role in the move towards establishing 20-minute neighbourhoods across the city. Amidst news of produce shortages and a cost of living crisis, community gardens provide skills and resources towards more resilient communities.

“The Community Garden Survey highlighted that gold-standard community growing projects can and do exist across Edinburgh, and showcased the potential for many more to develop with the right support provided through the Edinburgh Growing Together project. We are looking forward to continuing work with and supporting the fantastic organisations, groups, and volunteers behind each of the gardens, and more so to seeing how each garden develops over the coming years.”

Greig Robertson, Edible Estates’ Founding Director

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