Branching out this autumn

Grow Elgin November Blog 2016

We’ve worked with a variety of groups on a variety of activities, indoor and out this month, getting outdoors while we still can! We helped Spynie carehome build a herb spiral using recycled bricks in one of their courtyard gardens, where the herbs will not only be easily accessible for picking but the herb spiral can also be seen and appreciated from indoor seating areas. Once the plants have established the care home’s kitchen staff will be able to pop out to harvest fresh organic herbs with zero food miles! One of the carers mentioned she might like to make one in her own garden. Have a look at our website at http://www.reapscotland.org.uk/downloads/?did=116   for instructions to make your own herb spiral.

With young people at Elgin Youth Café we made Christmas crafts with local plant materials including decorative and aromatic lavender pouches and Santa decorations using local pine cones, which they can use to raise funds at  Christmas fairs.

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New Elgin primary school’s edible garden is coming on apace. We’ve now helped them build and  install six metre-square raised beds, planted and sown with  onions, garlic and winter salads like ‘Green in Snow’,  Sessantina and Red Mustard. As well a compost bin for garden waste the P4/5 class now also have some new outdoor pets to look after in their newly installed  wormery! The wormery will be able to process some of the children’s food waste from snack times and from the staff room (which would not go in their compost bin) to make nourishing worm-cast compost for their vegetable beds. The children now know all about what goes in their different composting systems and will be doing their bit to recycle compostable waste on site at their school.

tsi Moray organised an indoor pop-up market for social enterprise groups on the last Saturday of the month. Having our stall there was a good opportunity to spread the word about the Grow Elgin project and REAP’s other projects, our upcoming events and where people can harvest local veg and herbs. We had some hand-crafted stocking fillers and decorations for sale made from local plants, and made Christmas stars from willow withies with passing children. We also ran two herb tours around the nearby High Street herb planters, encouraging people to harvest local food.

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November is also a good time for planting trees  and we’ve been busy adding fruit trees and bushes to the gardens where we’ve helped set up raised beds. At ENABLE we planted an apple and a plum tree, and a couple of currant bushes with staff and service users, and also harvested a couple of turnips for the service users to take home – their lettuces were still going strong too!

At West End Primary School we spent a fruit-themed afternoon with their P6 class planting a small orchard of apple, pear and plum trees interspersed with red and black currant and gooseberry bushes. The pupils got stuck in with all aspects of tree planting, digging the holes as well as fitting tree guards around the trunks and stakes to support the young trees and mulching around the bases. ‘It was a whole new learning curve for me, planting a tree.’ commented James, one of the P6 pupils. The fruit trees planted were all varieties which grow well in the north of Scotland, including an apple variety called ‘Beauty of Moray’.

The pupils also had a chance to press locally grown apples by hand using a traditional apple crusher or ‘scratter’ and press and sample the  delicious freshly pressed apple juice. The children learned that growing and making food locally reduces CO2 emissions, and so the impact of climate change.  ‘I loved planting a tree.  I think more people should start planting things like trees, fruit bushes and food. Let’s save the planet!’ said Hayley, one of the P6 pupils involved.

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