A pioneering food growing programme has served up a festive feast for a Scottish community.
The Greening Donside project in Aberdeen has yielded sprouts and broccoli as well carrots and onions – and a hamperful of herbs to enhance Christmas dinner.
In March 2017, Aberdeen City Council allocated £145,000 to develop growing spaces for vegetables and fruit as way to promote green living and tackle food poverty.
An award of £14,500 went towards the creation of a community garden and wild orchards in Donside Village Square, one of more than a dozen projects across Aberdeen.
The site has brought residents together to reap the benefits of healthy, affordable produce.
Project leader Karen Cargill said: ‘We’ve had joy this year with brussels and broccoli, and onions and carrots. The herb garden has taken off and has been used regularly.
‘We have had lots of luck with our radishes, our garlic was amazing, and at this year’s market celery was a hot pick.
‘Curry plants and tomatoes grow now in recycled tins and colanders down at our Edible Wall where we’ve allowed the children to let their imaginations flow.’
Already the group’s thoughts are turning to next year.
Karen said: ‘Our composter is about ready to use and our Edible Wall is dying back for the winter, ready to explode in 2019 with welly boots full of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, loganberries and plums.
‘A pumpkin patch will be put in place in the summer to grow for the children at Halloween and to nourish wildlife afterwards.’
Karen added: ‘The project attracts all sorts of people and has been a huge success. Being a single, unemployed parent of four, this the perfect time to acquire skills for living in sustainable ways.’
The programme, which has included the provision of a development officer from charity CFINE (Community Food Initiatives North East), helped Aberdeen become the first Scottish city to win a prestigious Sustainable Food Cities award this summer.
Aberdeen City Council Councillor Lesley Dunbar, chairperson of the Sustainable Food City Partnership Aberdeen, said: ‘It’s wonderful that families across the city are enjoying healthy, hearty food that they have grown themselves.
‘The programme supports people’s welfare in the widest sense – socially, economically, and environmentally – teaching them lifelong skills that can be passed down through generations.’
In 2017 Aberdeen City Council agreed an anti-poverty strategy to create a ‘fairer Aberdeen that prospers for all.’
As well as reducing both food and fuel poverty, the strategy promotes training and employment opportunities.
Additional priorities include increasing the supply of social and affordable housing, closing the educational gap, and developing a flexible childcare service which meets the needs of those on low incomes.