Braehead Community Garden update plans for a growing enterprise and unveil two new projects 

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.

Fourth Polytunnel

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

A great display of some of the fresh, local produce grown at Braehead Community Garden
A great display of some of the fresh, local produce grown at Braehead Community Garden

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,

solar panel project bears fruit for community garden

‘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

Braehead Community Garden from the air in 2020

Growing for the Community

Braehead, Broomridge and District Community Development Trust (BBDCDT) have been a community anchor working with Stirling Council to reach people who have needed help with shopping, prescription collection etc during the Covid-19 restrictions.

BCG Fresh Produce

Trust Chairman Matthew Power takes a delivery of fresh produce to North Parish Church hall to be made available through the Heart of Braehead food project
Trust Chairman Matthew Power takes a delivery of fresh produce to North Parish Church hall to be made available through the Heart of Braehead food project

Leading on from this was the decision to use all available raised beds at the Community Garden to grow fresh fruit and veg to share with garden members, volunteers and the wider community.

A much reduced but dedicated team of Braehead Community Garden members have prepared, planted and tended raised beds with fruit and vegetables to share.

Thursday 25th June saw the first harvest wheeled round to North Parish Church hall to be made available through the Heart of Braehead food project.

There were lovely new potatoes, radish, beetroot, tomatoes and lettuce – all freshly picked, full of goodness and very, very local….
A great display of some of the fresh, local produce
We are delighted to be able to contribute to this fantastic community food project.
There are more details and photographs on the Growing for the Community page.

Braehead Community Garden calls for volunteers

Trustees of Braehead Community Garden have been working hard to put in place Covid-19 procedures to reopen the facility, which has been closed to new applicants since March.  Normally the facility leases raised beds to individuals to grow their own fruit and veg, but this year the focus is firmly on volunteering opportunities and community activity.

The garden is now putting out a call for volunteers to get involved in growing fruit and vegetables for a ‘community harvest’ later this year and to help tend to the garden over the summer months.

Trust Secretary Chris Kane says,

‘Gardening is a great form of exercise, both for the mind and the body.  We also want to do all that we can to help people have access to locally grown, nutritious fruit and vegetables. As soon as the Government restrictions allow us, we will open our garden gates to welcome people in and get involved in our community project.  If you want to help grow crops, help with light-maintenance, help look after the hens, or simply want to hang out with like-minded people (all at an appropriate social distance!), then we cannot wait to meet you at Braehead Community Garden soon.’

Trust Chairperson Matt Power says,

‘We are working hard to have Braehead Community Garden ready for access as soon as permissible. During the lockdown our existing members have been keeping the garden ticking over and have also been propagating and planting seeds in our Market Garden.  They’ve been tending to the chickens and undertaking general maintenance.  We’re putting in place all that we need to provide a ‘community harvest’ of fruit and vegetables in the Autumn.  Our produce will be made available to people who need them and to volunteers who help grow them’.

If you are interested in volunteering at Braehead Community Garden over the summer, please get in touch via and we’ll add you to our volunteering list and keep in touch with details as they develop.  The garden hopes to be able to reopen for volunteers in phase 2 of the Scottish Government’s plan for easing of restrictions, with a start date (for the garden not phase 2!) of early July.

– Ends –

Notes

  1. Normally membership of the community garden includes everything needed for a gardening experience, including access to tools to tend to both an individual outdoor and a polytunnel raised bed. Seeds and soil are all provided as well as regular social and educational activities throughout the year.   Because the facilities will be restricted this year, new memberships have been paused and all efforts have been focused on volunteering activities.
  2. Volunteering / gardening opportunities will be offered to adults who are able to garden and work with light supervision and look after their own welfare (which includes respecting social distancing and other Covid-19 guidelines).
  3. Volunteering opportunities will be offered initially from Fri-Sun between 1pm and 4pm, with the start date still to be determined.
  4. Although the facility is 11,000 square meters, volunteering numbers will be restricted to keep everybody safe and social distanced on site.
  5. Volunteers are strongly recommended to pre-register via email to attend any session. You can also come and speak to a Trustee during any of the sessions to find out more about what is on offer (although you may not be able to volunteer that day if the session if full)
  6. Activities will vary from day to day, but may include:
    1. Tending to the market garden (different crops grown in raised beds)
    2. Helping with our ‘jam patch’ of strawberries, blueberries and other fruits
    3. General light maintenance (weeding, caring for plants in the ‘wetland’, etc)
    4. Compost Making
    5. Orchard Maintenance
    6. Looking after the hens
  7. Activities will be ‘guided’ by a member of the Trust.  We’re also keen to hear ideas from ‘creative’ volunteers who have thought on landscaping and planting in non-edible areas of the garden.