Dundee City Road Starts Open Day Season

July 21st, 2017 by sagswebmaster

Now that the growing season is well under way allotment associations are beginning to think about Open Days.  They definitely involve some work, but are well worth it both to connect to the local community and to fund raise. Soon plot holders will have surplus produce to donate, or may already have made jam out of their soft fruit.   One of the earliest we have been notified about is the Open Day at Dundee’s City Road Allotment Gardens on July 30th.  It sounds like a great day out.  The posters give full details (click on the thumbnails to read them), particularly about the competitions for children which involve advance preparation.

CSGN Community Project Fund 2017 now open for applications

March 20th, 2017 by sagswebmaster

The Central Scotland Green Network want to hear from groups who would like to deliver a greenspace project in the heart of their community.  CSGN believe that greenspace projects are of most benefit to communities if they are delivered in cooperation with the people who would benefit most.

Grants of up to £1000 are available for projects such as:

  • conservation and education projects such as developing a safe natural learning space
  • biodiversity diversity activities such as planting and improvements to ponds and wetlands for wildlife
  • developing a community growing area

This list is not exhaustive, any new and innovative ideas would be welcomed.  To find out more about this scheme and learn how to apply visit their web site.

Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund open for applications

January 17th, 2017 by sagswebmaster

The Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund opens today for project applications. The £0.5 million fund will be used to help deliver a minimum of 10 projects across Scotland that help urban communities engage with their local green infrastructure.
Projects must:
– benefit urban areas with populations of more than 10,000
– have eligible budgets between £50,000 – £120,000
– provide at least 60% match funding
– complete by 31 December 2018..
The deadline for applications is midnight on 17 April 2017.
Eligibility criteria and guidance on how to apply to the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund is available on the Green Infrastructure Fund Website.  Projects that benefit areas in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland will be given priority. Projects in areas that have received funding from the main Green Infrastructure Fund are not eligible to apply.
Open Q&A events for potential applicants will be held in Dundee, Inverness and Glasgow. The first event will be in Menzieshill Community Centre, Dundee, on 14 February from 1100 to 1300. Following the Q&A session there will be eight half-hour appointments with the Green infrastructure Team’s project officers for an initial discussion about projects.
The other two events will be held during the following two weeks. The times and venues for these will be posted on the website and emailed to contacts requesting a place.
Details of how to book a place at our Q&A events will be posted on the website during week commencing Monday 16 January 2017.

Call for 2017 Living Garden Mentors

November 28th, 2016 by sagswebmaster

SAGS has been part of the Living Garden at the annual Gardening Scotland Show near Edinburgh for many years now. Living Garden mentors is an exciting volunteer opportunity to provide support to Eco-Schools entering the ‘One Planet Picnic Pocket Garden competition’ – the winning gardens will be displayed in the Living Garden next year (2nd – 4th June). As a volunteer mentor, you would offer up to two hours of time (this can be more if you wish to) to support a local school, but you should not produce the design or build the garden on behalf of the school. If you would be interested in becoming a volunteer mentor, please get in touch with our secretary  (secretary@sags.org.uk), as soon as possible and not later than 12th December and she’ll send you further details about what’s involved.

In praise of Turnip Tops

October 18th, 2016 by sagswebmaster
Turnips with their tops

Turnips with their tops

Most british allotment growers (assuming they grow turnips at all)  discard the plentiful leaves straight into the compost bin and concentrate on the roots.  Turnip leaves have never, to my knowledge, been sold in british supermarkets or green grocers.  In fact these leaves are highly nutritious – full of vitamins and minerals.  They have similarities with spinach but are a bit peppery and somewhat coarser especially when the roots have reached any size.  In Italy, where they seem to like peppery vegetables (think radiccio!), young turnip tops are often available on market stalls in Spring under the name broccoli rapa. They can be boiled or steamed but I think the nicest thing to do is a spicy chinese style stir fry with garlic, ginger, chillies and soy sauce.  Older turnip tops can be used in a nourishing stew or soup, as a substitute for curly kale for example.  Probably the most famous stew recipe is the Southern US dish of salt pork with turnip tops.  Whether the tops are young or old strip the leaves from the coarse stalks and wash them  carefully before use.

Turnip Gnocchi Verdi

Turnip Gnocchi Verdi

My absolutely favourite thing to do with these greens is an adaptation of Jane Grigson’s recipe for gnocchi verdi, substituting turnip greens for the spinach of the standard recipe.  It is a bit of a fiddle, but definitely worth it – so here is the recipe:

Cook about 3/4 kg of turnip leaves gently in a very small amount of water until they are obviously wilted and soft.  Blitz them in a food processor with 125 gm soft butter and 345 gm of ricotta cheese.  Return this mixture to the pan and heat gently for about 4 minutes stirring all the time.  Off the heat beat in 2 eggs,  30gm of grated parmesan cheese and at least 3 tbspns of flour (use your judgement here, more flour = heavier but easier to handle gnocchi).  Spread the mixture on a flat dish and leave to chill for a while till firm(ish).  Form the mixture into small balls (the gnocchi), you can use some extra flour to help with handling these balls.   Heat up some lightly salted water in a wide pan till it is almost boiling and drop a batch of 5 0r 6 gnocchi into the water.  Leave them to poach until they float to the top of the water, then remove with a slotted spoon .   Repeat this process until all the gnocchi have been cooked.  Try not to let the water boil – it can cause the gnocchi to disintegrate.  Put the gnocchi in a well buttered flat dish big enough to take them in a single layer.  Grate more parmesan and scatter it over them, dot with butter and place under a hot grill for a few minutes until the cheese is melted.

The gnocchi are also pretty good with a tomato sauce.  They can be frozen after being poached and then unthawed before the final cooking process.

Funding in the Internet Age

October 17th, 2016 by sagswebmaster
Newsletter

Link to Newsletter

Most allotment associations who need money for improvements, maintenance or whatever,  fundraise through open days and similar events or, if they need a large amount, approach funding bodies.  However in the internet age there is a third way, it is called Crowd Funding and involves reaching out to the general public through a specialised internet site, to ask for money.  The hope is that if the request is pitched right, then lots of people will contribute at least a small amount and the hoped for target sum will be raised.  Until now I am not aware of any allotment association using this method, but now LUGGS, the allotment association based in Ullapool, Wester Ross,  has decided to try this method.  They desperately need a deer fence installed and it is proving to be an expensive proposition.  It will be very interesting to see whether this works for them.  If it does, and I really hope it does, then it will be yet another possibility that can be open to any allotment association and could possibly save the trauma for allotment associations of filling out complex forms and trying to work out how to fit a worthwhile project into a funding body’s particular strait jacket.

Dealing with a glut

September 16th, 2016 by sagswebmaster

Golden Zucchini

At the moment I am having to work hard to keep on top of my golden zucchini glut. If they are not picked with great regularity then the odd one, (the middle zucchini in the picture is an example),  starts to grow into a marrow and make seeds that need to be removed before cooking.  I have been passing some on to a neighbour who rewards me with slices of a delicious zucchini cake.  Same idea as a carrot cake.

I like to cook my zucchini before freezing them and have found that any of the stuffed aubergine recipes found in middle eastern cookery books work brilliantly with the oversized zucchini.  Even simpler, you can cut one in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, fill the space with a sausage meat stuffing and bake with a tomato sauce.  The result is a nice simple supper and it can be frozen in a plastic container for later use.

Zucchini Quesadilla The other day there was a recipe in the Guardian for butternut squash quesadilla.  A quesadilla is basically a fried tortilla sandwich.  So you heat some oil in a frying pan, put a tortilla into the pan, spread a reasonable amount of filling on top of it, then cover with another tortilla.  Fry till the bottom tortilla is crisp and brown, then flip the ‘sandwich’ over (this is tricky, the filling tries to escape!) and continue frying until the second tortilla is also brown.   I decided to experiment with using my oversized zucchini instead of butternut squash.  The result was a great success, so here is the recipe I used:

Deseed (but don’t peel) and grate two oversized zucchini (the Guardian suggested 1/4 butternut squash).  Fry fairly gently in oil with a small chopped up red chilli and a heaped tablespoon of chopped up black olives till the grated zucchini is soft and also you have driven off some of the water that comes off it.  Move to a bowl.   Add salt, pepper, a smallish tin of white beans (haricot, cannelini…) the zest and juice of a lemon, about 50gm grated blue stilton (the Guardian mentioned feta but I didn’t have any!) and mash the lot together fairly roughly.  This is the filling to be used in the cooking method from the paragraph above.

This quantity made 3 quesadillas. I served them with a tomato ‘salsa’ created by chopping up cherry tomatoes reasonable small with a good handful of basil and adding an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.  The recipe fed 3 people very adequately. I have not tried to freeze a quesadilla but I imagine it would work.

It would be great to hear from others about their recipes for coping with their gluts. Beans, spinach anyone?

September Funding Opportunities.

September 15th, 2016 by sagswebmaster

If your allotment association has a project for which it would like funding, here are two possible sources of money:
The Postcode Local Trust funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery is offering grants of between £500 and £2000 (or £20000 if you happen to be a registered charity). Applications have to be in by September 28th. Click on the link to see further details.
The Angus Environmental Trust is specifically set up to distribute proceeds from the Landfill Tax in Angus to community groups and organisations and other environmental bodies. They are keen to here from any allotment groups that satisfy their criteria (again click on the link to find out more). They have a preference for Angus based groups since they get their money from tax collected in Angus, but in fact are allowed to disburse money to groups throughout Scotland.

CSGN development fund 2017/18

August 28th, 2016 by sagswebmaster

CSGN pictureGreen projects can bid for a share of £400,000 to enhance woodlands and green infrastructure, boost active travel and encourage community growing. Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham has confirmed the latest phase of Central Scotland Green Network (CSGN) funding is now open for bids. Applications are made in two parts and the first part of the application must be subitted by the end of Monday 21 November 2016.

The CSGN aims to transform the central belt into a place where the environment adds value to the economy and enriches the quality of people’s lives. Since 2010 more than 150 projects have benefitted from a share of £6.2 million.

As Europe’s largest greenspace initiative, the CSGN is working to improve the lives of people in the central belt and this significant extension to the Development Fund will ensure the continued transformation of the region into a better place to live, to do business in and to visit.

Eligible projects are those that will deliver or lead to woodland creation or enhancement, local food growing initiatives which will encourage healthy eating and schemes aiming to improve or create access routes to support active travel. We’re also interested in supporting plans which will breathe new life into vacant and derelict land and improve the lives of disadvantaged communities.

To find further details of how to apply and examples of eligible projects visit the CSGN website.

Climate Challenge Fund continues for another year

January 29th, 2016 by sagswebmaster

ClimateChallengeAllotmentThe Climate Challenge Fund is once again open for applications.

The Scottish Government has made £10.3 million of funding available for community-led organisations to run one year projects that tackle climate change. Grants of up to £150,000 are available per project. The funding is for one year projects with a start date of April 1 2016 and a completion date of March 31 2017.  The deadline for applications is February 19 2016.  The development of many of Scotland’s new allotment sites was made possible by grants from this fund.  So it has a record of being well worth the effort for a new allotment group as well as being a source of funds for upgrading existing allotment sites.

As long ago as 2009 six allotment/community garden related projects were kick started by this fund.  Since then there has been a steady stream of successful allotment applicants, one of the most recent being  Killandean Allotment Association in West Lothian, where summer of 2015 was the first full growing season.

To find out how to apply see the Climate Challenge web site.  If you feel uncertain about the suitability of your project, or the amount of work involved, do get in touch with SAGS.  We have many members who have succeeded with the scheme and can offer advice.