Oatridge College to open community allotment
14 June 2012
Horticultural experts at Oatridge will next week, officially open a demonstration garden to offer free advice to enthusiasts, from schoolchildren to allotment societies, on how to get the best from their fruit and vegetable patch.
The Community Allotment has been in the planning for more than a year, but the launch comes less than a week after a petition was presented to the Scottish Parliament demanding that derelict and underused land be freed up by public bodies and private companies for public food production.
Oatridge has been tracking the growing demands for allotment space around Scotland and the idea for a demonstration plot took off when the college won funding from Lottery-backed Awards for All.
It has allowed the preparation of an 11x32 metre garden, which includes a greenhouse, shed and fencing, where school groups, keen amateurs, from beginners onwards, will learn about cultivation, types of soils and rotation.
The official opening on Wednesday, June 20th at 4.30pm will hopefully attract volunteers prepared to help in the maintenance of the allotment, but the advice will be handed out by some of Scotland’s top horticulturalists from the College team. They are led by Ann Burns, who has won numerous top awards at Gardening Scotland, the country’s premier gardening show.
The popularity of growing your own fruit and veg has been increasing across Scotland in recent years. Edinburgh alone has an enormous waiting list for its 2,367 plots and plans to create 1,000 more. West Lothian, where Oatridge is located, is hoping to set up nearly 170 new plots in the next five years. The surge in interest has been fuelled by the Scottish Government’s national food policy which promotes the consumption of locally grown food and healthy eating.
Ann Burns says: “A lot of people are coming to realise the benefits of having an allotment: The physical activity is really good for you and is a real stress buster as well: you are getting fresh fruit and vegetables, grown locally, as part of a healthy diet; you’re saving money on your food bills and, if you care about the environment, our courses will emphasise sustainability, composting and organic gardening. We’re keen to capture the enthusiasm for allotments and make sure that everyone gets the best from their plot.”
The community allotment is currently being run and managed by Julie Muir, a 47 year old former bank worker, who is studying for a Higher National Certificate in Horticulture at Oatridge. She has been employed part-time during the summer months and hopes to progress to the Scottish Agricultural College next year to take a BSC degree in Horticulture. Read Julie’s story by going to “Julie has gone to pots since leaving bank job”.