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.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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.

img_8474           img_8491

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.

sam_1399          sam_1405   sam_14031

REAP at Elgin Academy Farmers Market

REAP’s Grow Elgin project will be having a stall at Elgin Academy’s Farmers Market on Friday 16 December from 10am to 2.30pm, promoting local food growing and with our ‘Where in the world?’ activity about reducing our climate change impact.

July with Grow Elgin in pictures

As a picture is reputed to speak a thousand words, we’ll let some photos we took during July do most of the talking with some short descriptions, to let you know what the Grow Elgin project has been up to during July

At ENABLE (a charity for adults with learning disabilities) in Elgin making windowsill planters and newspaper flowerpots and sowing them with vegetable and native wildflower seeds, in preparation for the installation of raised beds in their garden.

Enable 1

Community gardening at the raised beds in Cooper Park, weeding and harvesting kale, strawberries and a variety of herbs. We have these sessions every two months or so, and all ages are welcome (!) to join us for a few minutes or an hour.

At Aberlour Childcare trust’s Youth Point in ELGIN we’ve worked with some of their young people to make plans for a grassy area to be turned into a garden with a variety of uses – watch this space. We built and planted up a raised bed, made a ‘Lazy bed’ or ‘Lasagna bed’ by building up layers of different organic material on a cardboard base on the grass. This was planted with a few potatoes, and we’ll continue to add layers of different organic matter as the potato plants grow. Similarly we planted potatoes on soil inside a recycled tyre, and we’ll continue to add layers of different organic matter as the potato plants grow. Similarly we planted potatoes in soil inside a recycled tyre, and will add further soil-filled tyres on top as the potato plants grow.

Strathisla Pipe Band are the smartest!

Strathisla Pipe Ban Uniforms for website

 

 

Strathisla Pipe Band were the best turned out at Forres Highland Games. They successfully applied for funding to the Hill of Towie Community Benefit Fund, which supports groups and organisations based in Keith, Boharm and Botriphnie. If you’d like to know more and find out if your organisation is eligible, please take a look at the community grants page or call the REAP office on 01542 888070. The next deadline for application is 26th August 2016 The decision making panel usually meet twice yearly to consider grant applications. Demand on the fund has been high this year so you may wish to check before applying. The next deadline is likely to be in spring 2017.

Grow Elgin June news

The Grow Elgin project continues to find its way into new places to grow food locally with all kinds of people. The last week in June found us at Spynie Carehome, where we were joined  by some of the residents and their carers to harvest the last of the spinach, garlic, cabbage and kale(about 3kg in all) from the 1m square raised bed we installed last autumn. In their place we planted potatoes, lettuces and garlic chives and sowed a line of carrots. The care-home had also put a couple of raised planters in their courtyards for people to be able to work at standing up, which we crowded with a mixture of herbs, salad plants and strawberry plants. For at least one of the carers it was the first time she’d ever planted and started to grow any kind of vegetable and she was enthusiastic to do some more, which is great ‘cause that’s what Grow Elgin is all about!

We ran another of our small and personal gardening courses last week. During an afternoon participants had a chance to look around the GardenShare allotments, and learn how easy it is, with a little ‘knowhow’, to grow all kinds of vegetables. Participants asked questions, learned how to take cuttings, divide and pot-up plants, how to make compost. At the  end of the afternoon we all sampled some  freshly picked raw edible leaves in the salad we made,  and the participants were be packed off with their  cuttings and  potted up plants, information pack, seeds, and in this case loads of enthusiasm to get going in their own gardens! Watch this space for more ‘Grow your own food’ gardening courses coming soon!

SAM_1190

We’ve also been approached by two other organisations to help them establish vegetable gardens in raised beds. ENABLE in Elgin, who work with older adults with learning disabilities, have a small garden all laid to lawn which they want to make most of for their service users, so we will be working with them to install some raised beds, taller planters for access by wheelchair users, compost bin and, in the autumn, some soft fruit bushes and a dwarf fruit tree.

Similarly, children’s charity Aberlour Child Care Trust have asked us for help converting their larger grassy area at their Youth Point for teenagers in Elgin into a garden that will include vegetable plots and fruit trees as well as an area of wildlife garden with miniature wildflower meadow.

As with our other projects the service users with both these charities will be involved with the construction of the raised beds, planting, sowing, weeding, growing plants indoors for later planting out and of course choosing what edible plants they want to grow as well as eventual harvesting.

Finally, the herb planters in and around Elgin High Street are thriving! The Elgin Fire Brigade kindly came and filled the reservoirs in the bottoms of the planters, small signs have been attached to the planters making people aware that all the plants are edible, and a leaflet about the planters with pictures to help identify the different herbs (we’re presuming everyone knows what a strawberry looks like!) is about to go out to various venues around the town, and you can download the leaflet here.

Raised beds

REAP’s raised bed video is now on the website here and available for viewing, with thanks to Christy Kail film and the Climate Challenge fund. The raised beds leaflet has been updated and is available for download as a pdf here.

Climate_Challenge_Fund-MASTER(CMYK_300)  wee

 

 

Herbs in the HighStreet

It’s been a while since the last Grow Elgin Blog, but that’s not to say we haven’t been busy! The good news is that we have secured funding for the Grow Elgin project for another year, which means more community gardens, more raised beds in schools, more home composting around Elgin and more gardening and composting courses. All this is encouraging more people young and old to grow their own healthy veggies, which will cut down on food miles and greenhouse gas emissions and help look after our lovely planet home.

So what have we been up to? Well, next time you’re strolling through Elgin town centre have a closer look at some of the planters around the High Street. Elgin invited us to adopt some of these planters, and because we are about growing food locally we’ve planted up eleven of these planters with herbs like parsley, marjoram, rosemary and mint, as well as strawberry plants and little black currant bushes. Once these plants get established and take over the planters we’ll be encouraging people to browse these plants and have a nibble. They’ll not just be nice to look at but will become part of an edible landscape around Elgin!

And whilst on the subject of an edible Elgin we ran a successful community event at the start of March planting small community orchard in Cooper Park. About 25 volunteers came along on the day to help us plant 12 young fruit trees which will be bearing home-grown apple and plums for local people to enjoy in a few years’ time.  We also planted the 4 old rose beds with fruiting bushes and herbs for everyone to help themselves to as they pass through the park.

Last week we visited West End Primary School in Elgin. Their Eco club are very keen to grow their own food and compost stuff from the staff room. Having made some plans on paper for their new garden, they were soon outside enthusiastically putting together their new wormery, which will take the teabags and raw food scraps (apple cores etc.) from the staffroom. With a bit of guidance they were soon using electric screwdrivers to put together their raised  beds, filling them with compost and planting some herbs and vegetable plants, whilst learning about how  growing their own organic food will help make their own contribution to  combating global warming. It was great to hear from the kids how many of them were already aware of some of these issues.

west end eco group

In a similar vein we have been establishing local raised beds for food growing at Spynie Hospital, and have we are just in the process of drawing up plans for a small edible garden for ENABLE’s day care centre for adults with special needs in Elgin. Watch this space!

Grow Elgin 1 Climate Challenge Fund Report

The final report on year 1 of REAP’s Grow Elgin project is available here on the downloads page. It covers the events held, carbon saving targets hit, composting collected, raised bed parties held, community planting days, electric bike adventures and photos of just some of those who helped make it such a success. We are already underway with Grow Elgin 2, another year of saving carbon, doing our bit to combat climate change and spending time with brilliant people sowing, growing and celebrating local growing and composting.

Edible Garden in Cooper Park

Community planting day 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to all those who helped out at the planting day. We had a great time and now there will be fruit trees and herbs for years to come for everyone. Why not make a harvest of herbs as you pass through the park? Ultra low food miles, no plastic wrapping to go to landfill and as fresh as a daisy. What could be better?