Fay Young from Leith Open Space Group went looking for a new community garden in deepest Leith: this is what she found…
It took me a while to find the right place tucked away between high rise flats. By the time I got there the rest of the team were inside having coffee and my blurry mobile picture shows a community garden without people. Even so, the sun was slanting between high walls and if you squint you can imagine what it might be like once fruit trees are showering the ground with blossom.
Community gardens are spreading across Edinburgh. Backgreens are coming to life again. And there are plans for unused land in different neighbourhoods around Leith.
Two weeks ago I went to a wonderfully cheering meeting in the appropriately named Persevere Room at Leith Community Centre. I had been watching Monty Don’s new BBC television series, Around the World in 80 Gardens, and wistfully imagined what Leith might be like if we could capture some of Cuba’s enthusiasm for growing organic fruit and vegetables in every spare piece of land. It didn’t seem likely. Leith is not Havana and we are not facing a food embargo.
I found the room was full of community groups keen to use common land to encourage local people to get together to grow healthy local food. As a member of Leith Open Space, I found myself agreeing to share a plot with the infectiously enthusiastic and energetic Alastair Tibbitt of Greener Leith.
Alastair has secured funding to buy rare fruit trees from John Butterworth, who encourages people to rediscover the kind of apples, pears and plums you won’t find in the supermarket.
So my next visit to the Persevere Community Garden will be accompanied by other members of Leith Open Space, armed with spades to take part in a tree-planting ceremony with three other community groups. At the same time, the garden opening will mark the launch of Edinburgh’s Children’s Orchard – inspired by the fantastically successful Children’s Orchard in Glasgow.
Perhaps Leith could be more like Cuba than I imagined!