Project update – volunteers, garden tech and potting-up

A lot has been going on these passed few weeks at The Lions Gate.

Volunteer Lions

The Lions Gate flyer
The Lions Gate flyer

After putting up flyers for the project around all Napier campuses we’ve managed to get approximately 30 volunteers with very little work indeed. They’ve already started working with us thanks to the tremendous efforts of our horticulturist and volunteer coordinator Kat Dunlop (the harmonious gardener). Last week around 10 student, staff and external volunteers helped to move around three tonnes of leaf mulch from Craiglockhart to Merchiston!

Tam and his amazing techno watering system

Thanks to Tam Collier (Estates) we’ve been donated a timer-based watering system. All we need is some hosing to get it up and running. Tam has been a mine of information and a great support to us over the past few months. It was he who alerted us to the presence of nearly 20 tonnes of rich leaf mulch he’s been amassing at Craiglockhart over the years. Big up to him.

Gardena Automatic Water Distributor
Gardena Automatic Water Distributor

Plant the seed

Planting has begun in the Keder greenhouse and will continue for the foreseeable. So if you’d like to put your green fingers to work please email gardens@napier.ac.uk. We’ve got tomatoes, beans, garlic, cabbage, alpine strawberries, nasturtiums, lettuce and kale on the go already.

Planting the seed
Planting the seed

Silent shredder

Oh, and finally we fixed up our ‘silent’ shredder for the first time, so we can mulch on site. Works a treat and is pretty quiet considering what it does.

Kat using the silent shredder
Kat using the silent shredder

Paperwork.

It’s been a challenging process, but Kat and I with the help of the university Health & Safety group have carried out risk assessments and identified suitable insurance certificates to enable volunteer input to The Lions Gate Project.

We’ve also drawn up a Volunteer Policy – with associated forms (consent for use of media, induction checklist and registration document), as well as an evaluation form to gather data on visitor and volunteer experiences of The Lions Gate Project. Thanks to the Research and Innovation Office for supplying an evaluation template that we rejigged for our purposes.

Volunteer Policies and Evaluation Forms
Volunteer Policies and Evaluation Forms

Today, we have three volunteers, Fabien, Lucie and Gabrielle visiting to test the process and help us refine it. Gabrielle and Lucie are kick-starting a similar project at The University of Edinburgh’s Kings Buildings.

Hoggin path

I marked out a meandering, wheelchair accessible path in the Lions gate today for the Estates department to get a quote for the work. The plan is to lay an ochre-coloured hoggin path, edged with wood that will wind its way along the garden from reception area, through food forest, over the entertainment space and up to the ‘digital bothy’. We hope to have it in place by the end of March.

Marking out hoggin path
Marking out hoggin path

Chopping wood and compost delivery

Thanks to support from Gordon Solway and Kat Dunlop (the harmonious gardener) we’ve managed to cut back all the shrubs and trees that we’ve removed from the Lions Gate – giving us lots of material to shred (with recently purchased shredder!) and add to the soil to enrich it before planting. There’s scope for some art with this stuff too!

We also took delivery of five free tonnes of compost from Edinburgh Council, via Forth Resource Management – you only pay for delivery and the bags (£65 all in). Thanks to Gordon and Kat for helping to shovel two tonnes of it into The Lions Gate.

Kat Dunlop and Gordon Solway lend a hand
Kat Dunlop and Gordon Solway lend a hand
Harvesting removed plants to enrich the soil
Harvesting removed plants to enrich the soil and utilise in various creative ways
Free (ish) compost from Edinburgh Council
Free(ish) compost from Edinburgh Council

3rd Year Group Projects 2018

I’m working with three groups of students from the School of Computing 3rd year group project module this year. I have two groups looking into hyper-local WI-FI networks so that we can offer up bespoke immersive experiences in both garden sites at Merchiston. Thanks to Stuart Toland (Information Services) for lending a hand. The other group is designing a garden web-app.

3rd year School of Computing group projects
3rd year School of Computing group projects