A CHARITY which helps get youngsters out in the fresh air and planting vegetables in Leith has been recognised with a national award.
Leith Community Crops in Pots was last night named as one of the winners in the 2016 RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards, taking the top spot in the Youth and Education category.
The charity was founded four years ago by Evie Murray in a bid to bring more of the great outdoors into Leith’s urban environment.
As well as planting flowers to help increase the area’s bee population, the charity has also been working with local schools to teach children about how to grow vegetables.
Evie, 39, explained she had applied for the RSPB awards around six months ago but was “shocked” when she found out they would be heading to last night’s final.
She said: “We got invited to the Parliament and they selected the finalists so we went up there and they announced all the people who had made it.
“It’s very good. For us our purpose is to grow enough flowers for bees and pollinating insects and we certainly did that over the summer.
“It’s good to keep people talking about these issues so we were delighted really.”
A key focus for the charity has been getting volunteers into schools to give youngsters a better insight into how vegetables are grown.
Evie added: “If you add green to a grey playground it really changes the atmosphere for the children.
“It’s getting children more connected to the natural world with the idea that if they are more connected to it they are more likely to protect it in the future.”
Recent Crops in Pots projects include maintaining allotments at Leith Community Croft and launching an outreach project to create other urban vegetable-growing spots.
Plans are also under way for a new community market, which it is hoped could launch in April next year.
This year’s awards were presented by Springwatch presenter Chris Packham.
He said: “It was an honour to meet all of the worthy winners and learn more about the people driving some of the most important species and habitat work across the country.
“The passion, dedication and enthusiasm they have for conservation is inspiring.”
Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, added: “The role of volunteers improving their local areas, helping young people learn about the natural world, or monitoring declining species stands out, and it is uplifting to see what has been achieved.
“We need to offer more people the support and encouragement to take action to protect nature, and ensure our children grow up in a world richer in wildlife.”