Since its launch in 2011 with the support of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Edible Gardening Project at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh has had over 35,000 interactions with participants.
Four part-time staff supported by 30 volunteers deliver workshops and advice sessions, both in the garden and off-site at local community projects.
In 2015/16 the project made 18 outreach visits, including a pruning workshop and a gardening for biodiversity workshop. The project will support at least 7,000 interactions with participants during 2017.
One of the many initiatives which has benefitted from the project is a health and welfare venture for South Asian women and their families in Edinburgh called Nari Kallyan Shangho (NKS).
Since 2014 families supported by NKS have taken on responsibility for their own garden plot within the Edible Gardening Project, giving them ownership over the food they grow. Each week, participants maintain the plot and witness the changes as vegetables develop through different stages and seasons.
A key gardening challenge for the group is exploring how well crops inspired by South Asian culture can grow in Scotland. Great success was achieved in 2014 with coriander and mooli, a long white crunchy radish from East Asia. In 2015 new crops tried included orach, amaranth, mustard and fenugreek - many of which were consumed at a celebration harvest and lunch in September 2015.
The Edible Gardening Project delivers a range of free workshops to groups such as Edinburgh Garden Partners and Greener Leith. Topics include vegetable growing for beginners, composting, growing winter vegetables and organic pest and disease control.
There are a number of groups who look after their own vegetable plots and attend the garden on a weekly basis working alongside one of the project’s community gardeners. Groups such as Edinburgh and Lothian’s Regional Equality Council and TEENS+ gain practical, hands on experience of growing vegetables and learn horticultural skills.
Every Monday and Tuesday all visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are invited to come and see the Edible Gardening Team at work and to seek their advice about growing their own produce.
Over the weekend of 29 and 30 April this year, the Edible Gardening Project held a Spring Festival where visitors were invited to join in with the project as it got started in the vegetable patch.