Horticulture Week Custodian Award - Best Parks Partnership

Winner - Fife Council

The "Could You Help a Child to Grow?" campaign was a partnership between Fife Council's social work and parks departments along with the volunteer sector. It saw foster carers recruited to look after vulnerable children while also providing a mobile horticultural educational resource.

The 2015 campaign featured two branded mobile garden allotments manufactured from recycled skips that travelled to promotional events in Fife, Dundee and Edinburgh with the cost shared by the two services.

The unique tour, which included Gardening Scotland, Edinburgh Zoo, Craigtoun Country Fair, Inverkeithing Highland Games and Dundee Flower Show, promoted the fostering message that was featuring on national television as well as in local media.

The two allotments, which won a silver-gilt award at Gardening Scotland, were designed by the parks department for differing uses. The first was a simple allotment created as a portable growing space for schools while the second Disability Discrimination Act-compliant allotment is in use at a school for children with special needs. Accessible for wheelchair users, the unit is for people who wish to grow their own plants but cannot use a traditional growing space. It is self-watering, gathering and storing water from the roof and pumping it to the plants using electricity from a solar panel that also powers lighting and a ventilation system.

Careful thought went into the project to address the difficulties schools had previously reported with maintenance during summer holidays. This has been solved by partnering with local allotment holders who agree to hold and maintain the facilities thoughout the summer holidays, returning them to the school after the holidays for future growing and harvesting.

The overall campaign was managed by a recruitment strategy group that met monthly to review progress and resolve issues. Overall, 32 new foster carers were registered.

The campaign also increased engagement with council Facebook fostering posts. The number of engaged users has incresed from an average of 774 in August 2014 to an average of 13,124 in August 2015.

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