Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best food-growing initiative

Winner - Edible Gardening project, RBG Edinburgh

Since its launch in 2011 with the support of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the Edible Gardening Project at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has had more than 35,000 interactions with participants. Four part-time staff supported by 30 volunteers deliver workshops and advice sessions 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. It will support at least 7,000 interactions with participants during 2017.

One of the many initiatives to benefit is Nari Kallyan Shangho (NKS), a health and welfare venture for South Asian women and their families in Edinburgh. Since 2014, families supported by NKS have taken on their own plots, giving them ownership over the food they grow. Participants maintain the plots and witness changes as the vegetables develop.

A key challenge 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 the new crops tried included orach, amaranth, mustard and fenugreek, many of which were eaten at a celebration harvest and lunch.

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 that 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 & Lothians Regional Equality Council and TEENS+ gain practical, hands-on experience of growing vegetables and learn horticultural skills.

Every Monday and Tuesday, all visitors to RBG 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.

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