94-year-old earns charity thousands selling own fruit and veg for over 25 years

We're often told that eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is the key to a long and healthy life.

Friday, 26th August 2016, 10:31 am
Updated Friday, 26th August 2016, 11:34 am
Gilbert Clark 94 has been growing them to sell for Christian Aid for over twenty years, raising thousands of pounds.

However, it appears growing and selling your own might work, too.

It certainly has for 94-year-old Edinburgh resident Gilbert Clark, who is preparing for another weekend of selling his homegrown produce from his stall at St Columba’s by the Castle church.

Gilbert, who has had his own site at Midmar Allotments near Blackford Hill since 1975, is celebrating selling his produce at the stall for 25 years, raising thousands for charity Christian Aid in that time.

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And despite the journey from his home in Southhouse becoming more difficult, the pensioner, originally from Grantham in Lincolnshire, said he has no plans to give up any time soon and has even managed to establish a crew of regulars at St Columba’s.

“Whenever anyone comes round the stall, they’re always so generous,” he said.

“They give me far more than the vegetables are worth, I think because they know it’s going to a good cause.

“We’ve managed to raise over £1000 in the last few years alone – the support they give me is fantastic.

“My regulars love the berries and beans which are always my biggest sellers and they always ask what I’ll be selling next.”

Gilbert was just 17 when the dig for victory campaign during the Second World War inspired him to start growing his own vegetables and after moving to Edinburgh for work as an agricultural engineer in 1956, he got his first allotment in 1962, before spending 39 years on the Midmar allotment committee.

“My two sons, Gilbert and Christopher, always wanted to help in the garden,” he said.

“Picking the berries and the beans was always a particular favourite of theirs. But they’re in their 50s now and Christopher lives in Mansfield, so they aren’t as able to help any more.

“My grandchildren Bobby, 16, and Alice, 14, live in Linlithgow so they come through and give me a hand.”

His charitable efforts do not stop at selling his veg, though – as a member of St Columba’s by the Castle for more than 60 years, Gilbert has taken an active role in the church’s 
fundraising activities.

“I used to help out with the Christian Aid book sale on George Street every year, but it coincided with the time I needed to spend on the allotment so I had to give it up,” he said.

“I still take part in St Columba’s charity carol singing, though. I’ve been part of it for over 30 years and I still continue today.

“It allows us to help as so many of those in the world less fortunate than we are.”

A spokesman for Christian Aid said: “The lifelong commitment to Christian Aid shown by supporters like Gilbert is truly humbling.

“To find another way to support our work when he was no longer able to help out at the George Street sale each May speaks volumes about his energy and enthusiasm.”