Mini allotments for Fountainbridge gap site

Stan Reeves gets stuck in, watched by mother and son Trudi and Callum. Picture: Lesley Martin

Stan Reeves gets stuck in, watched by mother and son Trudi and Callum. Picture: Lesley Martin

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MOBILE mini gardens are being given to green-fingered urbanites in a move likely to cut allotment waiting lists.

The pioneering scheme will see 75 soil-filled wooden boxes made available at a derelict area of grass land in Fountainbridge where would-be gardeners can grow their own inner-city flowers, vegetables or crops.

Based at Grove Community Garden, each planter measures just one square metre but experts claim there is sufficient room to experiment with crops including radishes, lettuce, French beans, sweetcorn and tomatoes – with the help of a plastic windbreaker.

With demand for allotments soaring in Edinburgh – 2700-strong at the last count – all 75 micro plots have already been snapped up by residents eager to cultivate their own produce.

Earlier this month we revealed Scottish Government plans for a law forcing local authorities to provide a minimum number of allotments per head of population.

It is hoped the innovative allotment plan will provide a splash of colour to a barren area and inspire similar projects across the city.

Developer Grosvenor has gifted the land to the community until blueprints for new building works gain planning permission in around two years’ time. The wooden containers are mobile and can then be transported to other green areas around the city.

Stan Reeves, 62, a member of Fountainbridge Canalside Initiative, which helped broker the deal, said: “Our community garden is a direct response to a huge demand in the city for growing spaces – and a desire to see empty development sites put to use.

“We had been considering for some time the concept of a temporary garden and, working with Grosvenor, we hit upon a novel idea of the mobile planting box which allowed us to develop a superb garden environment without changing the fundamental layout of the ground.

“We have been amazed how this project has grown and how all the boxes have been embraced by local gardeners – we are now operating a waiting list for those wanting to join the project.”

Liz Grace, chair of the Edinburgh Midmar Allotments Association, said the nutrient-rich compost in the pallets would provide bountiful yields.

She said: “It’s a very densely populated part of town with a lot of tenements and this will certainly help with demand in local areas.”

Robin Blacklock, Grosvenor’s development manager, said: “There is a genuine feeling that we have hit upon something that could transform the promotion of green spaces and gardening across a range of different urban environments – and could be a brilliant benchmark for the rest of the UK to follow.”