The rise of community cooperatives, small scale vegetable exchanges and public allotment schemes is continuing to fuel the ‘grow your own’ movement in Scotland. From window boxes and crop containers to allotments and private gardens, plant enthusiasts are increasingly challenging themselves to produce their own food, according to experts at Discover Scottish Gardens.
Catherine Erskine, chair of Discover Scottish Gardens, said: "We are seeing a steady rise in community cooperatives and edible gardening projects across towns and city neighbourhoods. People increasingly share private and public garden allotments to regain the valuable skills and rediscover the joys of growing your own produce.
"At the moment the movement is unquantifiable as a lot of these gardening projects can be as small as jam exchanges and small scale vegetable sales, happening in the streets and across neighbourhoods. However, we hear from gardeners we speak to that these exchanges, sales and gardening projects are happening and that more and more people are getting engaged."
In line with this trend, numerous members of Discover Scottish Gardens, a national garden network that boasts a wide reaching membership of over 150 gardens and garden related businesses across Scotland, are delivering their own edible gardening projects, offering visitors advice, crops, planting workshops and demonstrations.
Dougal Philip at New Hopetoun Gardens in West Lothian, a garden centre with 20 small demonstration gardens, said: "We have been helping folk to grow their own in a very focused way for the last six years and have since been able to inspire and educate more and more people to do so.
"We feel that growing your own is linked intimately with cooking and eating your own produce which is reflected in our current edible gardening project called Potager to Plate, and for which we have had encouragingly high interest from visitors and growing enthusiasts alike. As part of this project we provide information on what can be planted each month and what you might be harvesting along with suggested recipes for the produce."
Market gardener for the edible garden at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE), Benjamin Dell, said: "Edible gardening has become so popular because it’s fun and rewarding – there is great satisfaction in nurturing a plant from seed through to fruition and then serving it to friends and family. But saying that, what has also contributed to this trend are increased concerns about the way food is produced. Most people who grow their own crops want to use organic principles to do so.
"The visitors’ response to our edible gardening events and demonstrations at RBGE has been very encouraging and we expect participant numbers to further increase in the future. We are thrilled to be able to inspire people to try something new, whether this means growing a few herbs on the windowsill or trying out a new crop or variety on their allotment. Many of which have taken part in recent workshops and demonstrations have learned something new about where their food comes from, while others have tasted something they have never eaten before."
On 17-18 September, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) holds its annual Harvest Festival, a celebration of the vegetable growing year, offering a variety of activities, gardening advice, information on harvesting, cooking, storing crops and more. The event is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Other edible gardening projects across Scottish gardens can be found at Attadale Gardens, Cambo Estate, Castle Fraser, Culzean Castle, Dun Ard, Earl’s Hall, Floor’s Castle, Geilston Garden, Harmony Garden, Kailzie Gardens, Lip na Cloiche, Pitmuies and The Torridon.
Discover Scottish Gardens aims to highlight Scotland’s diverse garden offering, and to inspire more people to discover new gardens, nurseries and garden tourist businesses across the country by providing easy access to events and seasonal activities.