The story so far: Just before the first Covid lockdown, founding members Pamela and Dean Nelson, newly relocated to West Fife, came across an overgrown walled garden on the Blair Castle Estate and began to dream about its potential for growing local vegetables for distribution to those in need through local charitable projects.
“By the end of the first growing season, with a 6 month land agreement in place, we’d delivered potatoes, courgettes, tomatoes, beetroot, salad leaves, spinach, carrots, beans and apples to three local community pantries in former mining villages every week throughout the harvest season.”
Two and a half years on Grow West Fife, with invaluable support from the Scottish Mineworkers Convalescent Trust, is an established SCIO, managing various funding streams to develop and restore the garden, and has set up an ‘In-stant Raised Bed’ outreach growing programme for people on low incomes. Sessional gardeners work alongside a growing team of volunteers to turn an underused walled garden once again into a productive and inspirational example of mutual community endeavour.
Whose land? Scottish Mineworkers Convalescent Trust (SMCT)
Land agreement? In stages-initial land agreement for 6 months to pilot and develop our vision. We have subsequently extended this to a 5-year lease and have recently negotiated a 21-year lease enabling us to raise money to repair garden walls and develop site infrastructure further.
Advice to others looking to secure land?– Taking a partnership approach with the SMCT has been essential in developing trust and a mutual understanding of how reviving the garden can meet both organisations shared vision to address inequality in our local community. Having a robust land agreement and access to technical expertise through the Community Land Advisory Service has been invaluable, giving us the long-term security we need to achieve our mission and secure investment for our volunteers to continue their amazing work.
For more information on the work of Grow West Fife see their Facebook page.