Our Garden Hero

This year the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens has been running a campaign called  ‘Local Heroes’ as part of their Growing Together (GT) project. The aim is to get more people actively supporting city farms, community gardens and other community growing projects by celebrating the work of unsung heroes volunteering or working in these projects.
The volunteers in the garden have voted and our Local Hero is Brian Matthews!  Brian is the longest running volunteer at Ninewells Community Garden, having been involved for around 5 years.  He is a popular presence in the garden, with time for everyone. No matter what the weather, Brian volunteers 3-4 times a week – feeding the birds, developing new areas of the garden and doing a lot of the dull, but important parts of gardening that make such a difference, but often go unnoticed. His humour, creativity and kindness are appreciated by all and he is a great inspiration and support to many of our group – it’s fair to say that the garden just would not be the same without him.
Thanks for all your hard work Brian – and here’s to the next 5 years!
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Digging Through the Past

A charity metal detecting dig was organised recently on Sunday 17 September 2017, to help raise money through donations for the Ninewells Community Garden by volunteer David Drummond, with permission kindly given by farmer Michael Arbuckle to use a couple of large stubble fields for a day’s metal detecting to take place on.

This was achieved just outside Dundee at the Star Inn fruit farm.

Fifty metal detectorists came along on the day and right from the off finds came to light through the searching of the fields – the fields were situated near the site of an ancient Roman Camp at Invergowrie and there had been an abundance of later histories in the area that included the tales of Highwaymen who would hold up stagecoaches from woods that once stood near the fields.

Finds on the day included a Gold Sovereign dated 1861, loads of other coins and tokens dating back to the 1700’s, lead flax seals from the time when Jute was King in Dundee, and buttons and military badges, among notable finds was an old Dundee Police Button and a Dundee Farthing Token from 1798.

A large bronze bell that might date back to medieval times called a Crotal Bell and giant lead weights one of which might be Roman.

The whole day was a terrific success and everyone attending thoroughly enjoyed themselves, there was teas and coffees and biscuits provided by the Ninewells Community Garden that went down a treat with the detectorists and being manned by Trustee Rodney Mountain but in between time he also managed to have ago metal detecting himself with his daughter for the very first time and were rewarded in finding their first old penny.

Donations given by the metal detectorists attending amounted to £406.82 for Ninewells Community Garden and its safe to say the folks at the garden are quite delighted with this.

And there will be another Dig scheduled to happen again next year.

David

Fun for all the family!

open day 17

It’s our annual open day next Sunday! We’ll have lots of activities for all the family, including drawing competition, metal detecting, herbal activities and yoga as well as our usual plant and produce sale and home baking.

Parking will be at the Mackenzie building (just up from Maggie’s on Tom MacDonald Ave), disabled parking at Maggie’s.

A clinic with a difference

diabetes gardenDiabetes Out There (DOT) is a specialist service for children and young people with type 1 diabetes.  They are trialling an innovative new monthly garden clinic, and last month saw the inaugural workshop. The children engaged in activities focused around the effects of exercise on blood glucose, and planted up a fabulous spiral garden of sunflowers, strawberries and vegetables – yum!

The DOT.dig project has been developed in response to poor attendance at the quarterly clinics for children and young people with type 1 diabetes.

From Nicholas Conway, consultant paediatrician “Levels of blood glucose control in Tayside are poor and these young people are placed at significantly increased risk of the complications above. With this in mind, DOT Tayside have undertaken a number of initiatives in an attempt to increase patient engagement; improve knowledge and understanding; and, ultimately, to improve glucose control.

The DOT team have run a variety of workshops and events aimed at young people and their parents over recent years, where clinics have been delivered in alternative settings, including a local community centre.  The DOT.dig concept was therefore informed by these experiences, whereby a small group of children were invited to attend a workshop held within the community garden, as an alternative to attending a traditional face-to-face clinic appointment.

All of those who attended on the day (including staff) enjoyed the event.  All of the attendees were keen to attend future events and so will be reappointed to attend a DOT.dig workshop in 3 months.  In the interim, additional dates and groups of children will be identified, with the aim to establish a monthly DOT.dig workshop in the near future.”

Co-design workshop and volunteer awards

We had a great session last week where we were exploring possible future directions for the garden – as well as looking at the obstacles we face.

There were no shortage of ideas!  Everyone had the chance to suggest new activities or features, which we grouped into different themes (see below).  We then spent some time with the 3 themes which had the most interest, working in groups to understand how they might be progressed (underlined themes).  If you are interested in getting involved with any of the ideas, or have an idea or comment of your own, please do get in touch.

After the workshop we awarded the first batch of our volunteer certificates – volunteer time amounted to around 2500 hours last year!  The garden wouldn’t exist without our wonderful volunteers – everything from planning to sowing; polytunnel building to bird feeding… This time, effort and creativity enables so many people to enjoy the garden when they visit – so thank you.

IDEAS
Water: wildlife pond, water fountain, wishing well
Communication: website, research into benefits of therapeutic gardening
Themed gardens: Japanese, continents garden, desert garden
Wildlife: bird hide, wildlife pond, more bee habitats (honey and bumble), animal corner
Garden features: pizza oven, time capsule, weather station, barbecue area, bike rack, low maze
Garden development: pear trees, snowdrops, expanding the garden, another polytunnel, own plots, more summer fruit
Skills and activities: more teaching sessions, bread making, preserves, beginners lessons in gardening, kite making, tai chi and yoga, photography club, cups of tea for visitors, cooking skills
Sales / enterprise: more veg for sale, shop for produce and crafts, growing food for hospital, create a cookbook, herbal calendar
People: more patients to visit the garden, day trips for volunteers, corporate volunteering for big jobs

CHALLENGES
Access: From hospital – no proper door or path, lack of signage, car parking, better awareness
Funding: sustainability, secure future
Facilities: lack of toilet, water and electricity
Health and safety: security, hygiene, safety, steps to leaf room, better wheelchair paths
Capacity: more volunteers, staff, more space for new features

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What’s a weed?

weed squares

If you visit the garden, one of the first things you will notice is our ‘wild meadow’ – which is a really polite way of describing the area around our fruit trees.  We sowed this section with a perennial wildflower mix in the autumn, but the weeds have dominated and as a result it now looks a bit messy.  On closer inspection though, there are at least 40 different species of plant which are providing a really valuable habitat for ladybirds – on a wee wander through the area I counted at least 15, including some that were getting quite amorous!  Also, as you may know, weeds are just plants that are growing in the wrong place, and many of the weeds in this area have herbal or edible properties.  In the long term, we would like to develop this area into one that doesn’t look quite so neglected – if you have any thoughts on this, please let us know in the comments.