Oatridge College gets Awards for All cash to run allotment courses

Oatridge College in West Lothian has received support from the National Lottery-funded Awards for All, to set up a community demonstration allotment where anyone, from schoolchildren to experienced allotment societies, will be able to learn, free of charge, from the experts.

Ann Burns: course tutor The Oatridge team is headed by Ann Burns who has been responsible for a string of winning entries to the annual Gardening Scotland show in recent years. She says: “A lot of people are coming to realise the benefits of having an allotment: The physical activity is really good for you and is a real stress buster: you are getting fresh fruit and vegetables, grown locally; you’re saving money on your food bills and our courses will emphasise sustainability, composting and organic gardening. We’re keen to capture the enthusiasm for allotments and make sure that everyone gets the best from their plot.”

Oatridge’s plan is to use the Awards for All cash to cover the construction of an 11×32 metres plot, which will include a greenhouse, shed and fencing and the purchase of plants and seeds.  Over the six months of the project, workshops for schoolteachers and pupils will focus on what fruit and veg to grow in a school allotment, cultivation, types of soils and rotation. Amateur classes aimed at beginners will show them how to design an allotment so that they get the best of it year-round.  There will be masterclasses for local and national allotment societies  dealing with subjects like organic growing, pest and disease control and plant selection. In addition it is planned to stage healthy eating classes and “Green gym” sessions for senior citizens on growing cheap and nutritious food.

The demonstration allotment will be constructed on the Oatridge Estate near the village of Ecclesmachan. Preparatory work is already underway and it expected that the plot will be ready by the autumn. At least 150 people will attend workshops during the six months of the project. More details are available be phoning the College on 01506 864800.

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