The Friends of Starbank Park launched in 2013 to arrest the decline of Starbank Park in north Edinburgh which had suffered from many years of council funding cuts. The park is now ranked as Edinburgh’s third best park - up an amazing 87 places from its lowly 90th position just four years ago. It also now holds a Green Flag award.
The maintenance of Starbank Park is top priority for the group which holds twice weekly volunteer gardening sessions with reminders sent out via Facebook, Twitter and email. Path edges are maintained, gullies cleared, and the flower beds kept beautiful with tasks scheduled weekly to tackle whatever is required. Cleanliness is also a primary focus for volunteers.
Plant pots are recycled and almost all the leaves and weeds from the park rescued as a mulch. The friends are entirely organic in their gardening approach and are aiming to blend the spirit and atmosphere of a formal Victorian rose garden with new planting to provide additional interest and extend the period when there is colour and structure to see.
The park is a hub for the whole community with events such as a Halloween Party and Easter Egg Hunt particularly involving children, while groups such as local schools, TCV and walkers make good use of the green space. This Christmas two wreath making sessions were held in the park and table decorations made for a care home.
The friends aim to hold at least one new large project each year with the dual aim of adding appeal for the general public and to give a focus for the work of the volunteers.
Last year the friends planted a large herbaceous border, working together with the Council, and carried out a refurbishment of the outbuildings to create a toolshed, public toilets for events, and a small meeting room for volunteers and small winter events. This year the friends will build raised beds to make it possible for people with disabilities and care home residents to visit the garden. They will also bring back a neglected protected area back to use as a plant nursery.
The friends have successfully raised funds with the help of the Tesco Bags of Help awards, the Aviva Community fund and the Skipton Building Society fund to refurbish the outbuildings.