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

Public engagement award

Delighted to have been awarded £1000 by the School of Computing for a public engagement event planned for late-July.

The proposed open-day involves:

  • introduction to permaculture talk with question and answer session by a leading permaculture author and teacher
  • tours of the sites including foraging for produce to make a soup for a late-lunch
  • demonstrations of AR interactions and other tech systems in-development
  • planting a fruit tree guild
  • an ideas sprint/factory
  • volunteer sign-ups

We also hope to employ a photographer and artist to capture the event. We’re hoping around 40 people will attend. More information to follow as we develop our ideas.

Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens
The Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens

The Lions Gate has joined the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens (FCFCG).

The FCFCG provide a strong voice for the community growing sector by:

  • representing project interests to governments, funders and other key decision makers
  • developing new funding streams for members
  • Influencing future policy that has a positive impact on members work

Health and Well being Committee

Delighted to have been invited onto a newly-formed committee that Kevin Wright (Engage Manager) has set-up to look at health and well being at the university. Three areas/groups have been developed; body, mind and environment, each with academic, student and professional services representation. I’m an academic voice in the environment group – though there is obviously plenty of cross-over between groups.

An associated ‘health promotion day’ has been organised for the 14th of March at Craiglockhart, where I’ll have a stand to discuss the gardens project’s and permaculture more broadly.

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

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

Free trees from the Woodland Trust

I ordered 270 trees from the Woodland Trust earlier in the year and they arrived today. Thankfully they are whips – young, slender, unbranched shoots.

The Woodland Trust provide free trees to community projects – a fantastic opportunity for all to provide much needed lungs for the planet.

We’ll use some of the trees in both the Lions Gate and the rooftop kitchen allotment/orchard as stand-alones and hedging.

The pack includes; Grey Willow (Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia), Silver Birch (Betula pendula), Cherry (Prunus avium), Downy Birch (Betula pubescens), Elder (Sambucus nigra), Field Maple (Acer campestre), Goat Willow (Salix caprea), Hazel (Corylus avellana), Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia), Oak (Quercus robur), Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris), Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea), Holly (Ilex aquifolium), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) and Dog Rose (Rosa canina). Lot’s of scope for edible hedges, wood harvesting, jams, jellies, sloe gin, christmas decoration and nuts. The trees will also provide windbreaks, wildlife, soften the landscape and lighten the mind.

I’m hoping to utilise them on other campus’s too.

Free trees from the Woodland Trust
Free trees from the Woodland Trust