A bit of a bumper blog for September and October as we haven’t had an update for a while, though if you’d like to see regular shorter updates the Grow Elgin project has a weekly (usually!) post on our Facebook page.
Busy times for the Grow Elgin project as the balmy summer weather extended into September and a mild and colourful autumn. We’ve continued our work with the ENABLE charity, returning to help them harvest leafy vegetables, some turnip thinnings and herbs. The taller planters are now in place too and we helped sow and plant them with winter salads, late potatoes, onions and garlic to grow over the winter. The service users have been taking the fresh produce they helped grow home too and that means more fresh healthy local food being eaten and fewer food miles too. The compost bin is filling up too, with the veg scraps from the ENABLE kitchen, the roughly chopped garden waste we gathered whilst harvesting and some shredder; we gave it a good water before putting the lid back on.
Filling the compost bin. Parsley, mint, spring onions, turnips, and lettuce all harvested from the ENABLE garden
We had a lovely sunlit day out at our Gardenshare allotment with groups from West End Primary school’s P1 class, learning all about the far flung places in the world our food comes from and then seeing how we can grow lots of it right here in Scotland and even on our doorstep. It was great to see the wee ones getting stuck into digging and weeding and planting and sowing on the REAP community plot, and composting their play piece too. Hopefully they will return next spring to see what their gardening has grown into.
We also returned to St Sylvester’s Primary School, to plant and sow herbs and winter crops in their vegetable and herb beds, collect and save seeds, make mini-beast homes, and discover the potato crop which hadn’t been completely lifted! (see pictures below)
We’ve been establishing a community garden including half a dozen raised beds at New Elgin Primary School too, with the help of Mrs Oakley’s P4/5 class and the schools Eco Group building the 1m squared beds, filling them with peat free compost and sowing winter veg in them, as well as planting and weeding the herb garden. We are looking forward to setting up a wormery and planting up an orchard in the school grounds following the very detailed plans the group drew up.
The Elgin Youth Cafe wellbeing group have been making Herb posies, pouches and teas using the herbs gathered from the Cooper Park raised beds and the planters in Elgin High street. The herb planters now have QR codes on them so that anyone with a QR code reader on their smart phone can now find out all about the herbs and how to use them from a new page on our website.
We’ve also built a herb spiral with Action for Children’s Krazy Kids Club, a fine 3D addition to their edible gardens. If you would like to make a similar one, it takes about 65-70 bricks to make and three bags of peat free compost to fill, and we have instructions you can download on our REAP web site.
Dorothy and Paul, the Grow Elgin project workers, didn’t get any company on the bi-monthly weed-sow-harvest session at the Cooper Park raised beds, but then the rain was fairly chucking it down! Not to be put off though we weeded the beds and harvested about 1.5 kg of lettuce, kale and herbs each for Elgin Youth Café and the Moray Resource Centre. Dorothy had early harvested some salad and herbs for our friends in the Cobbs Café in the library too. Forget food miles, we’re talking food metres!
The raised beds we put in at the Moray Resource Centre are also thriving since we gave them some protection from the rabbits (!) and the three service users there who have taken on a bed have been learning to sow and plant a variety of winter veg including oriental winter salads, garlic and broad beans. They’ve also been learning about weeding and thinning, and harvested a small crop of radishes to take home.
And finally we had a very successful Elgin Apple Day in Cooper Park at the end of October. Our apple scratter and press were kept going full time making fresh local apple juice from apples brought by visitors from their own gardens, or from the bags of apples which had been donated from local gardens around the Keith and Elgin area and from Wester Hardmuir Farm near Nairn. There was also a display of locally grown apple varieties from Pluscarden Abbey, apple dookin’, a longest peel competition, facepainting, plant-a-pip, apple trees for sale and Elgin Youth Café’s smoothy bikes. We had about 80 visitors during the three hours, and lots of enthusiastic and positive feedback, so hope to have another bigger and better Apple Day next year!