Tyne Esk LEADER Helps Community Garden Bloom
Tyne Esk LEADER is a rural development fund supported by the Scottish Government and the European Union that helps to fund projects in rural Midlothian and East Lothian.
Based in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian Community Hospital Garden – a partnership between Cyrenians, NHS Lothians and Robertson Group – started in 2012 and has gone from strength to strength.
Then in 2014, the Midlothian Community Hospital Garden planned a project to build a new greenhouse and Tyne Esk LEADER awarded funding of over £11,000 to make it become a reality.
The large greenhouse, which opened in 2015, has proven to be a real game-changer; enabling staff, patients and volunteers to grow plants and vegetables all-year round.
Funding proves pivotal
Hugo Whitaker, Community Gardens Manager, Cyrenians, said: “Cyrenians were delighted to be awarded funding from Tyne Esk LEADER towards the construction of a greenhouse at the Midlothian Community Hospital Garden.
“The project is known as ‘Gardening in All Weathers’. Since it opened in early 2015, it has provided a central hub for the community garden, for people to meet, garden in a sheltered environment as well as taking part in social and learning events.
“This includes volunteers, hospital patients and vulnerable people from the community.
“The greenhouse gives us an all-weather training facility for young, unemployed, disadvantaged people, or those facing health challenges.
“We have seen an increase in the number of hospital patients visiting the garden and taking part in different activities.
“We have also held celebration events in the greenhouse, including carol singing at Christmas with patients and local schoolchildren, apple pressing, and as part of our Open Day.
“The greenhouse is a valuable meeting place for participants and for learning programmes.
“It has extended the growing season of fruit and vegetables and the range of what we grow throughout the year. We were also delighted with the support from Robertson Group who built the foundation of the greenhouse free of charge.”
Making a difference
Tyne Esk LEADER Chair Andrew MacDonald says he is thrilled to see the funding help to make such a difference to the local community.
Andrew said: “Seeing first-hand the lasting impact the funding has made on the Midlothian Community Hospital Garden is incredibly satisfying.
“The development of the project has been a real team effort, working alongside Cyrenians and the Robertson Group, and the fact it has added so much to such an inspiring local project is very pleasing.
“Now Tyne Esk LEADER are encouraging applications from other projects from rural Midlothian and rural East Lothian where they can benefit from funding.”
Tyne Esk LEADER is open to applications now and have a budget of £3.49m to allocate to projects that meet their funding objectives before 2020.
The programme has a budget for farm diversification projects and rural enterprise projects as well as community based projects.
More details on the Tyne Esk LEADER Programme and funding objectives can be found at the Tyne Esk LEADER website.