THEY were only doing their bit to beautify a neglected strip of land in their local community.
But shocked gardeners in Shandon have slammed the “wretched” and “ridiculous” action of council workers who tore up their vegetable plots without warning.
The guerrilla garden, carefully grown over a period of weeks on the banks of the Union Canal, was gone in only three hours after council clearance teams in trucks and a tractor moved in to trash it.
And students interviewing Union Canal residents for a documentary were stunned when one of the trucks slammed into a lamppost and nearly knocked it over.
Garden founder Kate Gilliam said: “They way they did it was wrong – it was a wretched scene.”
City environment bosses have pledged to find the gardeners an alternative site as soon as possible.
But Kate, 34, said she and other residents who helped grow the garden were furious that their efforts were uprooted without consultation.
She said: “I really think what the council did here sends a bad message and it was all caught on film as well, which is really embarrassing. It was all so heavy-handed. They had three trucks and this huge tractor with a trailer.
“Then this other huge truck arrived and I don’t know how it happened but he just drove right into the lamppost – which they then had to replace.
“It just went from bad to worse.”
Edinburgh Napier student Stephen Ramsay, 28, who was filming interviews for a university documentary and caught some of the clearance on camera, said he found it hard to believe what he was seeing when one of the trucks collided with the lamppost.
“It was ridiculous,” he said. “I was doing an interview with Kate and all of a sudden there was this big crash and we could see the lamppost was bent over.
“We all laughed at that point. It just added an extra layer of ridiculousness to what was already a very stupid situation.”
Council officials said they had plans for a picnic bench on the garden site and that complaints about the guerrilla gardeners had been received from users of the canal tow path and Harrison Park.
But Kate – who said the plots were based on a project called Trees Not Trash which she ran in her home borough of Brooklyn in New York – insisted city bosses should have done more to warn her and other local residents before destroying their hard work.
“I want to create a partnership between the people who live here and the people who make laws for the people who live here,” she said.
“The biggest mistake the council made was missing the chance to work with the community.
“And if the people of a community are using land in this way then that’s something that should be listened to.”
City environment bosses insisted that Edinburgh was a city in which community gardens were supported and encouraged.
Environment leader Lesley Hinds said: “As soon as I was aware that this particular area had been cleared, I instructed the local neighbourhood team to help identify an appropriate piece of land that the group can use as an alternative community garden.
“I understand that we’ve received some complaints from local residents about the current location of this project, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to find somewhere else that is suitable.”