Green gardening in St Andrews is hard to come by. While we have some excellent horticultural facilities – such as the Botanic Gardens – very rare is the small and ecologically minded community garden. The St Andrews University Community Garden is one such place, where students, staff and towns folk all gather to grow organic fruit and veg. This permaculture garden is helped along by the Transition team at the University and relies on volunteers to help with upkeep and maintenance.
The garden has been around for a few years now, started some time back by a student at the university and carried on by a small group of dedicated followers ever since. While there has been much interest in the garden as of late, this was not always the case. In the past the group of students running it found it hard to maintain the plot, leaving the work to a small, but dedicated group of intrepid gardeners. Things have changed for the St Andrews University Community garden. This semester alone there have been around 40 new regular helpers, clocking an astonishing 300 hours of volunteer work. Organisers have also been keen about the garden’s growth, Carol-Ann Cunningham, a project officer at Transition who supports the garden volunteers commented that “The garden is a really fantastic project to be involved in, there is just so much enthusiasm for it from everyone. I would really love to see it grow and grow and I hope that we can get lots of members of the St Andrews community involved in it too!”
As a community garden, it is meant as an educational space, where students, staff and the community can come to learn about where their food comes from. In addition, it tries to help people think about their personal carbon footprints, and how we as a community can help combat the issues of climate change and peak oil. This garden is not about mass food production, it is about a way of life that is more sustainable and resilient. To this end, the garden has embarked on some new schemes to show people how they can supplement their diets with foods that they have grown themselves. Also, a plastic bottle greenhouse is in the works – made of recycled drinks bottles – and work is nearly completed on mulching one half of the garden in preparation for next year.
This year the garden has also linked up with a few local organisations including East Fife Organic Gardeners, the St Andrews Botanical Garden as well as the Community Council to support each others work. If you are interested in getting involved in the garden then we are especially looking for members of the St Andrews community to come along. In the future, there will also be a community tree planting expected to go ahead in 2012. To get involved contact communitygarden@st- andrews.ac.uk for more information, or check out the website at www.st-andrews.ac.uk/transition and click on ‘Community Garden’.
Photos: Carol-Ann Cunningham