Case Study: Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens

Royal Edinburgh Community Gardens

Who is the landowner? NHS Lothian

Describe the site: NHS Lothian has set aside up to 15 acres of land in the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital to create community gardens for use by local people, community groups and patients. The land was previously waste ground.

What changes are being made? Following a challenge laid down at the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society conference in 2009, FCFCG staff met with Dr Charles Winstanley, Chair NHS Lothian, to discuss the issue of community allotments on the site. The result was this pilot project, which was officially launched in May 2010 with a demonstration area of three acres, including an existing orchard. The hospital's estates staff helped with site tidying. Green waste from the hospital site will be used for pathwork. In addition, the on-site horticultural therapy project propagated plants for use in their glasshouses, so that the community gardeners would have something to plant out in their first season. The project is being developed in a low-cost community-owned highly voluntary way, where the groups involved will manage the site on a day-to-day basis and be responsible for fundraising.

What activities take place? A project manager has been employed, on a sessional basis, to work with community groups and volunteers to develop the site. He quickly assembled a large team of people who wanted to get stuck in and help with practical tasks. The project manager's job is not only development of the site, but also empowering users to take responsibility for the site too. The community gardens are recognised as being particularly special as they bring together both members of the local community and patients to grow food and other plants along side each other.

What is the land transaction status? Short-term annual lease from the NHS.

Any land issues? One of the NHS restrictions is that they cannot give long-term tenure of the site. This means that the project can only have tenure year by year. In addition, the project must be financially self-sustaining as there will be no ongoing funding from NHS Lothian.


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