Volunteers at Braehead have been busy over the winter months planning and fundraising for two new infrastructure projects and a new social enterprise at the 11,000sqm Community Garden. Braehead and Broomridge Community Development Trust, who operate the garden, have also been developing a model for a social enterprise to provide a sustainable source of produce for the local community.
Solar Panel Array
A 30kw solar panel array has been installed on site, which will completely eliminate the garden electricity bills and generate an income for the project over the next twenty years as it sells surplus energy back into the national grid. Funding for the project came from via the Community And Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) and the Stirling and Clackmannanshire Environment Trust.
A new Polytunnel has been erected on the site, significantly increasing the amount of covered growing space in the garden. This will allow more community gardeners to grow their own tomatoes and peppers and chillies. Funding for this project came from the Community Climate Action Fund.
Market Garden Social Enterprise
The fourth polytunnel will allow the project to dedicate two of the existing polytunnels to a ‘market garden project’, with volunteers growing fruit and veg to donate to projects and people who need help and also to generate an income by selling low-cost, nutritious local produce within the community.
Trust Chairperson Matthew Power says
‘Lockdown meant we were looking at losing an entire growing season in 2020, but instead we supported a small team of volunteers and grew fruit and vegetables to distribute into the community to those in need. We were so successful that we realised we could do more and look to develop this in the future, which gave us the idea of raising money for a new polytunnel’
Trust Treasurer Aileen Hall says,
‘The solar panels will completely eliminate our energy bills and give us a sustainable source of income for many years, which means we can look well into the future and subsidise access into the garden. A regular source of income for a community project is crucial and I’m delighted we can count on this in the years to come along with reducing our carbon footprint on the world’.
Braehead Community Garden opened in 2015 after the community raised £250,000 from the National Lottery to build it. The garden offers local residents the opportunity to grow their own produce in a ‘micro-allotment’ raised bed. In addition, there is an apiary with honeybees, a flock of egg-laying hens, a large orchard, workshop and picnic area complete with a pizza oven constructed from the clay found on site. For more information on the community garden, log on to www.braehead.org