HORTICULTURAL experts at Oatridge College are set to open a demonstration garden to offer free advice to enthusiasts, from schoolchildren to allotment societies, on how to get the best from their fruit and vegetable patch.
The Community Allotment at the college has been in the planning for more than a year, but the launch comes less than a week after a petition was presented to the Scottish Parliament demanding that derelict and underused land be freed up by public bodies and private companies for public food production.
Oatridge has been tracking the growing demands for allotment space around Scotland and the idea for a demonstration plot took off when the college won funding from Lottery-backed Awards for All.
It has allowed the preparation of an 11x32 metre garden, which includes a greenhouse, shed and fencing, where school groups, keen amateurs, from beginners onwards, will learn about cultivation, types of soils and rotation.
The official opening next Wednesday, June 20 will hopefully attract volunteers prepared to help in the maintenance of the allotment, but the advice will be handed out by some of Scotland’s top horticulturalists from the College team. They are led by Ann Burns, who has won numerous top awards at Gardening Scotland, the country’s premier gardening show.
The popularity of growing your own fruit and veg has been increasing across Scotland in recent years. Edinburgh alone has an enormous waiting list for its 2367 plots and plans to create 1000 more. West Lothian, where Oatridge is located, is hoping to set up nearly 170 new plots in the next five years.
The surge in interest has been fuelled by the Scottish Government’s national food policy which promotes the consumption of locally grown food and healthy eating.