Allotment plan to help residents grow vegetables

Greig Robertson hopes to encourage the use of the city's green spaces. Picture: TSPL
Greig Robertson hopes to encourage the use of the city's green spaces. Picture: TSPL
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COMMUNITY allotment plans taking root in council estates across Wester Hailes could sow the seeds of a healthy eating revolution.

A “food-growing hub” is set be established on a triangular stretch of land for around 40 residents in the heart of the district before it is rolled out across the whole of Wester Hailes.

It comes months after work began on an early phase of the project, at a site close to Sighthill Primary School, which saw land converted into a community garden and now permission is being sought to create a second plot close to Clovenstone Gardens.

Run by Wester Hailes Edible Estates, organisers aim to help scores of households grow their own vegetables and cook healthy, affordable meals.

The latest proposals will see 40 raised beds, a community tool shed and other areas for cultivation incorporated in the design.

Greig Robertson, project coordinator, said around 50 volunteers have been attracted to the allotment concept.

He said: “This provides a fresh approach to how people can get involved in the management of local green space in Edinburgh’s council estates at a time when the council has less and less resources to manage its local green spaces.

“We also want to encourage people to work with their neighbours to improve the quality of their local green space and the facilities and amenities on their estate.

“And it’s important to encourage people to have a greater involvement in their council estate.”

The community growing concept was “perfect” for green-fingered amateurs who might have a long wait to near the top of the allotment waiting list, said Mr Roberston.

It is hoped the Wester Hailes project will flourish like its predecessor, the Calders Edible Estate Project, which is now planning to add a community orchard.

“Built in the 1970s, the Calders has approximately 1200 householders, with folk mostly living in flatted accommodation,” said Mr Robertson.

“But also like a lot of estates build at that time, there is a lot of green spaces between the houses and projects like this hope to convert some of that into food-growing areas, wild flower meadows and play features for the local children.”

Nutritional consultant Chris Fenn welcomed the project which she said could help improve the diet of the community.

She said: “Cheap food is processed food.

“It is very easy to live off processed food but this reconnects people with where their food comes from.”

She added that locally grown food tended to contain more nutrients, have a higher mineral content and to be of better quality than mass-produced fruit and vegetables from supermarkets.

It is hoped the project can be extended to Dumbryden, Murrayburn and Hailesland.