Kirriemuir Community Garden at St Mary’s Field

The story so far: Land gifted to St Mary’s Church in the 1930s for the purpose of food growing and cultivated for many years as a market garden is once again under cultivation as a thriving community garden. The one-acre site tucked away in the centre of Kirriemuir has become a key area of local action for Sustainable Kirriemuir- a community group established in 2019 with local food, climate and community at its heart.

Sustainable Kirriemuir took on the land in 2020 with support from the church to develop the garden into an inclusive, nature-abundant haven with a focus on learning and sharing through local food production. The garden welcomes volunteers from all walks of life, facilitating sessions three times a week to grow fresh, affordable food for distribution throughout the town. Garden produce is sold directly from the gate and through the zero-waste shop at less than the market rate. It is also sometimes available through the local food hub. All volunteers are also encouraged to share in
the harvest, ensuring that everybody can access locally grown food regardless of income. Integral to the running of the garden is an ethos of collective ownership, collaboration and everyone taking part in a way that suits them. This year the garden hosted a Bio Blitz session to explore the gardens’ wide range of species from pollinators to fungi, lichens, and herpetofauna. They also welcome “young legs” by hosting rural skills school curriculum activities. In a relatively short time, the garden has become a cherished and well-supported part of Kirriemuir life.

Whose land: St. Mary’s Episcopal Church

Land agreement: ‘While a longer lease would enable better future planning and open up more funding opportunities, the church has a longstanding policy of committing to 3-year leases.’

Advice to others looking to secure land: “We’ve been extraordinarily lucky; we started with optimism
and ideas and little more. The community has rallied round and the team behind the vestry at St.
Mary’s Church has been very supportive of our goals: to grow good food in a biodiverse setting,
and to get that fresh produce into the community.”

More info on the Field and the wider work of Sustainable Kirriemuir can be found on their website.


Peat-free gardeners gold, leaf mould

There are amazing things about winter in the garden; taking time from the ‘doing’ to  simply ‘be’, enjoying bird song and occasional truly still days and, once you feel the need to get active and keep warm, making leaf mould, the ideal alternative to peat at no extra cost to our environment.


This magic stuff makes a great weed-free mulch* and the best peat-free substitute for sowing seed into or mixing with garden compost for potting compost. Once you’ve tried it, you will never be without it, so find a corner or a spot behind the bin and let nature do the rest. *Material used to improve the soil or to prevent weed regrowth.




Nature wins

Imagine a more biodiverse, greener Scotland for people and the planet. It is possible, and many community food growing sites across Scotland are leading the way in growing with and celebrating nature and climate every day, as recognised by Shettleston Community Gardens’ nomination for the RSPB Nature of Scotland Awards next week.
The Forum’s recent response to the Scottish Government consultation on Biodiversity highlighted the importance of recognising the stewardship role that Shettleston and thousands of other growing sites across Scotland play in creating and supporting local connections with biodiverse, beautiful and nature-abundant spaces in our communities. Local, informal opportunities to connect and grow food with nature on our doorstep can grow micro but profound collective steps for a biodiverse future. So, go Shettleston and all the gardens you represent- we are rooting for you!
Unsure where to get started read the Forum top tips for growing with climate and nature whatever your setting.


Keeping 1.5C alive

For many, a gardener, the simple act of working the soil is enormously hopeful: by growing, we commit to the future. Individual and collective action here in Scotland can and will count when it comes to our climate emergency. For gardeners and community growers, our urgent role is to take things back to basics but with more intention and knowledge: doing what we know works, doing more with others and asking for help and support to get it right. Wherever you are on your journey, here are four steps to keeping hope alive.


  • Nurture your soil
  • Grow more of what you eat, and eat more of what you grow
  • Grow for and with nature
  • Make connections with what you do and why you do it

Let’s demonstrate climate solidarity and work together.



Communities supported to grow food

Coordinated by GrowGreen Scotland and partnering with local groups, we are supporting communities local to 40 Tesco stores to participate in and reap the many benefits of growing food.

Learning from groups across Scotland, we know “There is no substitute for tailored advice and encouragement to start and sustain growing so that every seed takes root and grows, and this funding will support 40 communities to get and keep growing.” Lou Evans, project coordinator.

Through people and projects connecting and learning together, with tailored one-to-one advice, hundreds more people and projects across Scotland can start and keep growing in a nature and climate-friendly way.

Claire de Silva, Tesco’s Head of Community, said: “Tesco Community Grants help support local good causes, especially those projects supporting young people, those providing food, and local causes close to our colleagues’ hearts.”

Tesco Community Grants, run in partnership with greenspace scotland and community-focused charity Groundwork, has awarded grants to thousands of local community projects every year.

Tesco’s Community Grants scheme – previously Tesco Bags of Help – has already provided over £90 million to more than 40,000 projects across Britain.

Emma Halliday, Community Enabler at greenspace Scotland, said: “Tesco Community Grants continues to give local projects the boost they need to help their communities thrive. We are pleased to have been able to help so many local good causes over the years and look forward to seeing what community organisations can achieve in the future with the right resources.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. To find out more visit www.tesco.com/communitygrants.



Where do we grow from here?

Demand for land for growing food near where we live continues to soar as more and more people want to grow local. See the Glasgow Community Food Networks’ recent Demand for Land Campaign.

The Community Growing Forum has long advocated that growing locally in community gardens, allotments, community orchards and more can support cost-effective, community-led solutions to issues of food insecurity, health and well-being and people’s urgent desire to take global climate action locally. So, where do we grow from here?

As advocated in our response to the National Planning Framework 4, we need an urgent rethink at national and local government levels that tackles land distribution and safeguards suitable land for feeding ourselves over development. Meanwhile, grassroots groups continue to seek creative solutions to growing local wherever and however they can, often in partnership with local authorities, NHS and the church. Increasing numbers of private landowners are willing to support diverse models of growing locally too, but if we are to grow our Good Food Nation and develop greener, more climate-resilient communities across Scotland, we need so much more of it. 

The Community Land Advisory Service Scotland provides one-to-one support for landowners and community groups to secure land for growing. Contact karen@farmgarden.org.uk

Later this month, this site will feature their updated Growing in the Community- Scotland Land Guide a unique resource which aims to make more public and private land available for growing locally. Written for both community groups and landowners, with technical advice and sample leases, it is an invaluable resource.


Gardeniser Group Photo March 22 (1)

Can we reach critical mass?

Scotland’s first ever Gardeniser [‘garden organiser’ = Gardeniser] training took place 14 – 18 March on sites in and around Edinburgh.  This unique course, developed by Social Farms and Gardens [SF&G] and EU partners, is the first accredited course for community growing in the UK and EU, and recognises the unique skill set for starting, managing and developing our greenspaces for nature based activities. 

16 people from across Scotland came together for an intensive week of learning. The Gardeniser training programme, and daily onsite visits to a range of sites, offered an invaluable opportunity to hear and learn from one another, breakdown the different components to good practice and, perhaps, above all, take inspiration and energy from the knowledge that they are part of a growing network that has its roots just about everywhere … critical mass here we come!

The participants now have six months to complete self-learning tasks and take an online exam to be awarded the Gardeniser accreditation. 

Sponsorship from the Scottish Government made this possible and SF&G Scotland are looking to running the course in the Inverness area in autumn this year. If you’d like to know more email karen@farmgarden.org.uk

Nuture your soil

If you have ever had the pleasure, and let’s face it, the privilege of working with soil, you will no doubt know just how good it can feel. But, whilst words can rarely describe the feeling of increased well being when taking care and making a connection to this vital life source, it is time to put words and actions to the link between healthy soils and our fight against climate change.  Soil is the next frontier; a healthy soil holds and captures carbon, stores and delivers water when and where required and is home to billions of bacteria and microbes central to our existence. It’s mind blowing to be honest. Yet now, the very substance that sustains us, needs us. Taking a regenerative approach, to rebuilding our soils and associated ecosystems is gaining ground but urgent action, at ALL levels is required. It’s our turn in our gardens, allotments and shared greenspaces to nourish, replenish and yes, quite simply worship the ground beneath our feet.  So, if you have a little bit of soil to work and nurture you can make a difference. Here’s How

‘Nuture your Soil’ is part of our post COP26 series GetGrowingGreener supporting you to take positive action, locally.

Catching on?

“If people are empowered to take responsibility for greenspaces like this, it’s not just the gardens that thrive, it’s the communities.”   

J.J Chalmers BBC Gardeners World

This growing in your community thing is finally really catching on with a spotlight on community growing in both Beechgrove Garden and Gardeners World this week. The spotlight on The RBGE Edible Garden project beautifully illustrated the social and therapeutic value in people coming together in greenspace with a common purpose. If you were ever in any doubt, listen to Anne tell her story. 


Local food for everyone- Forum consultation response

In case you missed it, the Scottish Government recently ran a consultation on our experience, aspiration and contributions to a more local food system.  The Forum responded on behalf of people growing in communities. 

In a nutshell, our response highlighted this:

  • Local food can be a central pillar in creating happier, healthier and more resilient local communities.
  • We see the involvement of communities in growing, sharing, eating and distributing food as an essential indicator of success in any local food system.
  • A strong grassroots base exists across Scotland undertaking inspiring and essential work in their communities based on trust, hope and shared endeavour.
  • Their work is cross- sectoral and cost- effective delivering multiple benefits in the communities they serve.
  • Many community growing spaces played essential roles in the pandemic response, this was made possible through relationships and trust already built through local food connections.
  • These grassroots and cost- effective approaches need to be adequately resourced over time, current funding streams often make the sector inefficient and unable to focus.
  • More focus needs to made of the essential connection between our food system and the nature and climate emergency. Every local food strategy needs to place healthy soil and growing with nature at its heart
  • The Community Growing Forum Scotland, representing many 1000’s of communities and people across Scotland,  has the objectives to see these solutions and opportunities appropriately connected, resourced and widely replicated so that every community in Scotland has access to sustainable and thriving places to grow and connect with food on their own terms. 
  • The Forum’s vision is for all citizens or communities who want to, to have access and skills for growing food and taking care of nature in their local area. It is therefore fundamental that we can identify and secure appropriate land and resources  to do so.