Delighted to have Neil Fyffe on site today to measure up a bespoke trunk bench to go around the mature sycamore in The Lions Gate. Neil is a master wood craftsman with decades of experience.
Our 6m x 3m Keder polytunnel/greenhouse was erected today. The guys have travelled up from Evesham in the Cotswolds and worked their socks off, so it was assembled in under six hours on our rooftop kitchen allotment, round the back of the kitchen’s at Merchiston.
I had visited the Keder stall during our interactive permaculture exhibit at Scotland’s Garden Festival back in June 2017 and was impressed by its design and the way that its bubblewrap-esque material was able to take what light is available and scatter more of it interiorly. The kitchen allotment site has a challenging amount of sunlight so it’s good fit. A considerable amount of food and herbs can be grown in here for student, staff and visitor stomachs. Here begins our circular food economy, scope for medicinal growing, and much research too.
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.
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.
Today Kat Dunlop and I met at Merchiston with permaculture pioneer Graham Bell to go over our LAND certification application with the Permaculture Association of Great Britain. LAND certification anchors our project as a locus of permacultural activity and enables it to gain support from the Permaculture Association, whilst opening it up as a permaculture learner and demonstration centre – whereby interested groups and individuals can come and learn about our project and take part too.
It’s quite astonishing how little bio-diversity there is at Merchiston campus. It’s basically a series of concrete boxes, on a mono-blocked floor. There is almost no soft landscaping, everything is an angle.
We do however have a resident Robin (Erithacus rubecula) in the Lions gate, so I’ve hung up two bird feeders to encourage this avian companion to stick around and to encourage more birds to visit the site. One hangs on the Mahonia (commonly known as Oregon grape), so that the staff in the library office can enjoy the view, and another on the Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) so that staff and students in the main part of the library can share the same simple delight.
I’ve seen photos of a fox on campus and caught sight of a blackbird once too. Is that really it?
The installation of ponds on both sites should help to redress this poverty.
It’s crucial that early on in our design process we attract as much wildlife as possible to kick-start ecological processes that will aid good health in all its guises.
Delighted to have employed Kat Dunlop (the harmonious gardener), to kick-start the growing process and run volunteer sessions and events. Kat has tons of gardening experience, especially in working with volunteer groups. She’ll also be drawing up volunteer policies, helping with risk assessments, health and safety, research and other administrative tasks. Welcome aboard Kat!
In mid-December I took delivery of treated ceder timber for raised beds, staging and seating from Thornbridge Sawmills.
We’ve begun purchasing tools for the project, so we can start to roll out volunteer sessions late-February/early March (watch this space). We’ve got spades, forks, rakes, secateurs, hoses, watering cans, saws, drills, wheelbarrow’s, first aid kits, a shredder, and much more, with more specialised tools on the way.
I recently started Design Dialogues workshops with computing MSc students. Our first couple of sessions involved brainstorming and developing interactive concepts for the Lion’s Gate garden – the fruits of which can be seen below.