2015 is the Year of Soil and the theme of Scottish Allotments Conference 2015, was the important, and surprisingly complex, topic of Soil. However to some extent this was overshadowed by the fact that the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill had just been passed the previous day, with all its implications for the future of allotments in Scotland. We were very fortunate that Dr Aileen McLeod, minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform had already agreed to be the keynote speaker at the conference. Dr McLeod gave an inspiring talk, which left the participants optimistic about the progress that could be made by the allotment community as a result of the provisions in the bill.
There were three speakers on the main theme of Soil. Dr Matt Aitkenhead, a soil scientist from the James Hutton Institute, gave a fascinating talk on Allotment Soils - how to identify and foster healthy soil and prevent soil degredation. Professor John Grace of the Biological Society of Scotland explained the effect of Climate Change on soil management in a clear and wonderfully comprehensible talk. Alison Swanson of the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society discussed the distressingly important topic of dealing with contaminated land so that growing can take place safely.
After a break for lunch and networking, Karen Kenny, President of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardens to which SAGS is affiliated, updated us on the present activities of the group. This was followed by presentations from developing sites once again showing what hard work was required to overcome the obstacles put in the way of new allotment sites. The usual lively workshops on a number of topics of interest to participants ended the afternoon.
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