Grassmarket garden revamp thanks to grant

West Port Garden group inspired by Patrick Geddes. Picture: Jon Savage
West Port Garden group inspired by Patrick Geddes. Picture: Jon Savage
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IT is a garden inspired by one of Edinburgh’s great philanthropists which had fallen into disrepair until residents decided to Get it Sorted.

The West Port Garden in the Grassmarket was inspired by philanthropist and pioneering town planner Patrick Geddes, who encouraged residents to improve their environment.

The Grassmarket Residents Association (Grass) took that message to heart and became the first of many beneficiaries of a joint campaign of the News and Edinburgh City Council to spruce up the city’s neighbourhoods.

As they reveal how the money has helped them, we are encouraging more groups to get involved and apply for small grants to help fund their community projects.

Dedicated Grassmarket volunteers secured funding to make much-needed improvements, such as wall repairs and the addition of handrails, to the community garden.

Elspeth Wills of Grass said the £500 grant had given them a major boost and work to transform the site was well under way.

She said: “We’ve spent the winter just clearing all the debris. We’ve now got a planting plan in place, so we’ll be spending the money in the next few weeks on things like planters for vegetables and then getting the wooden boxes built, sorting out the handrail and starting the nice bit of choosing what plants to put in.

“Get It Sorted was really brilliant in getting us started and also to think bigger. We’ve also applied to the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust to see if they will fund us putting in a little interpretation panel that can be read from the street so people discover a bit of the history.”

Applications are still open for community groups looking for help with a project to improve their environment, while several are already starting to bear fruit.

The entrance to Polwarth Parish Church has been transformed since repainting of railings that had become tired and shabby. Wheatfield Backgreen Association, which has worked to transform green space behind tenements for the last eight years, got just under £500 to help attract more members and carry out a two-day clean-up of a neglected part of the site.

Davidson’s Mains Primary School received funding to re-plant its urban meadow to attract wildlife.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment convener, said: “Whether you want to spruce up your community centre with a lick of paint, breathe new life into a derelict piece of ground or plant some bulbs on a community back green, there are loads of projects we can help get off the ground. Get it Sorted Together has been a great success since we launched it with the Edinburgh Evening News last summer.”

Frank O’Donnell, Editor of the Evening News, encouraged more readers to make use of the grants, and said: “We’re delighted to be working with the city council on a fantastic project that helps Edinburgh residents carry out improvements in their local communities. We’ve seen some brilliant initiatives so far, and I look forward to seeing what other inspiring ideas our readers have.”

Go to www.edinburgh.gov.uk and search for Get It Sorted Together to find an online form.