Story so far..

 A very brief version.

On a sunny Saturday in April 2010 a group of neighbours gathered at a street corner on Wardieburn Road. There was a patch of grass with a fence round it, that hadn't been used for anything for as long as anyone could remember. We began to dig it up.  Neighbours who had lived next door to each other for years but didn't know each other, started chatting. Everyone met new people that day. Friendships formed.  People brought old tools and seeds. An older woman donated a tenner and we dug up 54p in change (our budget for the first 2 years). A community garden was created with a mix of flowers and vegetables planted.  Over the following weeks and months, the garden, and many of the friendships, flourished. The soil turned out to be rich and deep. 

Soon, a group of neighbours from the other end of Wardieburn Road decided to start a community garden on a similar but larger unused corner.

original design of garden on corner of Wardieburn Road and Boswall Parkway: a stick man that you can see from the top deck of the bus or on google earth -as suggested by local young person.
creation of the first community garden on Wardieburn Road
radishes: often the first crop from a new garden

Over time more neighbours got involved bringing new skills, ideas and energy.  We started to be more ambitious and focussed on producing larger amounts of food.

And in time we started to have some great harvests

epic days of turf lifting and stacking

During colder months of the year, when we didn't see eachother as often in the gardens, we started cooking and eating together in public buildings, using the food we'd grown. 

In 2012 we formed a community group and managed to secure a bit of funding to buy a shed and some tools, as well as to run a 12 week 'Grow your own' course in the garden.

threshing coriander seed
Our first AGM
gardening in the sleet

Our community meals started getting larger too as more people joined to celebrate harvests and other occasions.

In January 2014, in partnership with Pilton Community Health Project and Royston Wardieburn Community Centre, we organised a Burns Night Community Ceilidh.  It far exceeded our expectations, as so many people came along, helped out, and performed songs, poems,  and dances.  It has since become a regular annual event.  

Gardening work continued and neighbours from other streets came to ask for help in starting community gardens on other street corners.  The amount of land being cultivated in Granton slowly started to expand.. 

planting tatties
Sunflowers always cheer up a street corner..

It gradually became unsurprising for street corners to be planted with crops (in Wardieburn at least).

Quinoa patch

Wheat harvest 2018 copyright Anneleen Lindsay Photography

We even started growing some heritage Scottish wheat on street corners thanks to encouragement, advice and grain from inspirational charity: Scotland the Bread

BBC radio interview 2016

In Jan 2017 we became a charity, with the aim of supporting gardening and especially anyone growing food in the area, as well as wider aims about helping our community and local environment to flourish (full charitable aims here).   We started working regularly in Granton Primary School, and hosting a free weekly community meal open to all.  By now we were supporting residents cultivating over 12 different community growing plots across the Royston Wardieburn area of Granton.  The charity tries to support and encourage anyone with a great idea to make Granton better especially if it involves making sure everyone is fed well!  Everything we've achieved has happened because someone has come along with a great idea and has acted on it.

we're handy for lots of bus routes
this greenhouse made from salvaged materials has been used to grow thousands of seedlings and basketfuls of tomatoes since it was built..

In November 2017 we moved our regular community meals to Granton Parish Church hall, and they began to run every week year-round.  For many of us, our habit had previously been to eat our meals only with those very close to us, or alone. By working together (and with our amazing cooking team) we've been enjoying better food than we'd be likely to cook at home, and got used to sitting and eating with neighbours. It's interesting to reflect on the effect this has on us and our community.  There are now lots of kids growing up, for whom 'community meal' is part of normal life.  Nobody should ever go hungry, or have to eat alone, in Granton.

If we're going to eat in the garden, we need a proper table..

In May 2018 we gained access to our big community garden. A gap site, where a building had just been demolished.  With no utilities and a large desert-like expanse of compacted rubble, this was one of our biggest challenges so far.  An incredible effort followed, with over 200 people getting involved in a practical way over the first few months.  Within the space of a few weeks, we began getting complements for the new garden.  In the winter of 2018/19, we planted over 30 fruit trees and created a series of paths. The garden remains (and hopefully always will be) a fruitful work in progress.  It's a place where people come to work, learn, relax, chat, play and eat.  It's now our base, where we host regular open drop-in sessions. We also host a wide range of groups, including school children, parents and toddlers, afterschool clubs.

It's been created from rubble, with very little money, but a huge amount of hard work, creativity, and ingenuity from those who've come along and worked together.   

planting team

we used what free materials we had available

moving mountains of woodchip

new growing spaces very productive

polytunnel under construction

kids playhouse being constructed from parts salvaged from 3 old sheds

more path building

In 2019 a group of local residents formed Granton Chicken Cooperative, purchasing a flock of egg laying hens, and sharing responsibility for caring for them, feed costs, and rota shifts for opening up their run each morning and closing it each night.  As well as eggs, the hens contribute a lot of high quality manure to the compost heaps, plus being very good at weeding and clearing slugs (just need to keep them well away from crops!). 

the hens have contributed thousands of fresh eggs to the diet of our community

Also in 2019, Granton Garden Bakery was launched.  This grew out of 'Bread Club', a baking practice group where we worked together to see what the best bread we could bake from the flour from the wheat from our street corner plots.  The aims of the bakery are to make top quality nutritious bread, and to make this available and accessible in our area (where otherwise you can only get ultra-processed supermarket bread). We need to do this at the same time as paying a baker a living wage, and we're committed to sourcing local ingredients in order to support the local food economy.  We've been using a 'Pay what you can afford' model, so that you can always get bread whatever your financial situation at the time, and if you're not under money stress you're encouraged to support us.  Thanks to Pilton Community Health Project for renting us the space!

One of the busiest and most popular parts of the community garden is our freeshop.  This is like a free 'charity shop', supplying donated clothes, toys, and household items free of charge to any one who can use them.  You don't need to be 'in need' to use the free shop, in our city there is too much 'stuff', we just need to get better at distributing it, so that everyone has what they need, less resources are used, we all save money, and less waste is created. 

Our community garden is a place you don't need money, there is food, there are clothes.   We can look after eachother as a community.

Christmas freeshop in our portacabin Nov2019  

outdoor freeshop event

In March 2020 lockdown was announced due to the dramatic spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.  These were days of apocalyptic news headlines, empty supermarket shelves, and very high anxiety about what would happen next.  Looking back it can be hard to fully remember the intense flood of information and emotions of those days.  

A couple of GCG members decided to visit some of the regular participants of the community meal, especially those living alone, or who had suddenly lost key support. We got a call from Spartans Community Football Academy (now Spartans Community Foundation), who had just been offered a large number of packed lunches by a catering company who usually supplied office workers. On day one of the lockdown, strict hygiene protocols were carefully devised and adopted, and 50 packed lunches were distributed, particularly to families with children stuck home from school, and (often) older people living alone.

On day 2, there were more packed lunches. By day 3, we were getting referrals and pleas for help, as support agencies and organisations who'd had to close, as well as concerned relatives, were contacting us to ask if we could provide food to people who were particularly vulnerable to the virus, and/or unable to get out to get food. We realised that as a local community organisation we could step in when all statutory services had shut down, and workers from other organisations who didn't live in the area weren't able to travel in.

distributing meals by hand cart to over 200 households/day

Over the coming days and weeks, this work continued to grow. We joined with other local organisations to form the North Edinburgh Covid Foodshare network (which has since become the 'R2' network). We became the key organisation for our local neighbourhood. Over the coming weeks, we recruited and trained a team of 30 volunteers who ended up delivering over 18,000 packed lunches, and over 9,000 other meals, including fresh vegetables, bread, eggs, and milk. These deliveries were every week day for 19 continuous weeks. It was a really brilliant team, who became known to many in the area as ‘the cart people’ because of the distinctive hand carts with which we did deliveries on foot. So many people said they’d been cheered up, as well as receiving very practical help, including hearing aid batteries, baby clothes, and other essentials beyond food. 

As the restrictions lifted into the Summer, these deliveries were gradually phased out, with a big reduction when schools eventually returned (and took over responsibility for ensuring all children have lunches). We continued to provide food to around 20 households every week for the rest of 2020. In January 2021, we provided support in the form of a delivery service, until a new network of Community Pantries were established in the area (by partner organisations), who we could refer everyone to.

deliveries in all weathers!

It was a while before we could restart our community meals, but when we did, we started to host them outdoors in our garden. We teamed up with the excellent Scran Academy team (a local charity who work with young people who are out of school and provide training in catering skills). Their Scran Van was able to prepare and serve food with all the necessary enhanced hygiene and social distancing rules which were required at the time.  

Scran van meal Summer 2021

The Scran Van meals proved very popular and have since become a regular monthly fixture, in all seasons!

Scran van meal Jan 2022

we've had meals in rain, wind, sleet, and glorious sunshine

With the gradual lifting of lockdown restrictions, the safest place for groups of people to meet was in the fresh air. We were very glad to be able to provide a venue for different local organisations to run sessions or regular groups.   Stepping Stones North Edinburgh and Pilton Community Health Project in particular became regular garden users.  This was greatly helped by the installation of a shipping container with a toilet and a small room with a kettle (big thank you to Edinburgh Council!). 

Bookbug in the garden with Pilton Community Health Project (group for 0-5yr olds with songs and rhymes)

gardening is much better with a cup of tea and convenient toilet. Container installed Winter 20/21

In October 2021 we started the 'Womens Outdoor Cooking Club' in partnership with Pilton Community Health Project (who run a programme called 'Women Supporting Women').

This overlaps with our Wednesday Gardening Club open session, and so we can all eat a shared lunch together afterwards.  It was a chilly time of year to start the group, but a lot of us got more used to outdoor life even in Winter during those times. 

This has become a regular fixture and we've had a free community lunch at the garden every Wednesday since!  The gardeners grow fresh ingredients for the lunches, the cooking club take it in turns to be head chef and teach the rest of us, and make amazing food every week.  These meals are open to all, free of charge, always delicious, and often the healthiest meal many of us eat during the week..  

Wednesday community lunches happen every week at 2pm all year round.  All are welcome to come and share some free hot tasty food made with ingredients grown very locally! 


-2023 and 2024 have also been busy, and with some major highlights.. we'll try and update this section soon!


The story continues!   What shall we do together next?