Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens – October Update

Volunteering

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October has been a busy month at the gardens, with many organisations and community groups represented.

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These have included; a team from the Good Wood project run by New Caledonian Woodlands, a large group of student volunteers from Edinburgh University Students Association, and a corporate group from local firm Vino Wines.

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In addition there have been lots of independent volunteers, including a number of patients from the hospital who have made use of spare time, and the mild Autumn weather, to come down and lend a hand.

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As ever, I’d like to voice my gratitude to all who have helped out. As we move towards the end of our second growing season, the grounds are beginning to mature, and we are collectively able to reap the benefits of the many (11,000 plus!) hours of volunteering that have gone into gently shaping this urban oasis.

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Special thanks this month to Mike, for kind donation of a mower!

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Seasonal changes

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One of the key aims of the gardens development strategy has been to maintain and enhance wildlife values on a piece of land that has been relatively unmanaged for decades. As the season shifts, it is a source of delight to see wintering birds returning to use the network of habitats on offer, such as mature tree belts, seed rich scrub areas, and the old orchard, with its sheltering nettle beds and abundant windfalls.

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The Fieldfares have begun to arrive already from the Taiga forests of the far north, and for me their wild calls can brighten any drookit winter’s day. Lots of people that use the gardens derive similar pleasure from wildlife, and plans are afoot to develop a bird feeding station in the orchard area, along with observation screen to support songbird populations, and allow further enjoyment. We would welcome any donations of bird food/feeders to support this project.

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Education

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This month has seen considerable use of the gardens for a variety of educational purposes. Shandon Local Food Group have run a couple of introductory organic gardening sessions, covering ‘getting started,’ and ‘focus on fruit.’ These were very well received, with around 30 participants.

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A group of Secondary Education students came out for a day on the 7th to tour the site, discuss education in a non classroom setting, then helped out with the gardens for a few hours.

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Transition Edinburgh South staff accompanied a class of P7 children from Gracemount Primary for a visit on the 31st as a concluding session to a recent food education project. The kids had a fabulous time exploring the gardens and orchard, before helping out with composting – the wormery proved very popular!

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TES also assisted on the 26th, when Transition Edinburgh University ran an afternoon discussion session under a marquee in the orchard, focussing on local and sustainable alternatives to the global food system. This attracted a variety of local interest groups, as well as offering something different to volunteers along for a day at the gardens.