Tesco inviting applicants for its Bags of Help programme

July 6th, 2018 by sagswebmaster

The Tesco Bags of Help programme provides small grants for community projects which can involve the following:

  • development of and activity in outdoor spaces
  • purchase of items such as sports kits, camping equipment, tools or specialised medical equipment
  • improvements to community buildings
  • seasonal events and activities

Currently Tesco stores in the areas of Ellon, Blairgowrie, Monifeith and Oban are particularly inviting applications.

Tesco Bags of Help can provide up to £4000 for projects who are a constituted community group, school, charity, community council, local authority, public body or not for profit organisation. Following a public vote in Tesco stores every two months, three projects in each of the local Tesco store areas will receive a grant, with first place receiving up to £4000, second place up to £2000 and third place £1000

Allotment associations have successfully applied for these grants, but also groups wanting to set up an allotment site should be eligible – they are developing activity in an outdoor space!  If any group in the first three towns would like to apply they should email rita.callander@greenspacescotland.org.uk

Any group in Oban should email tamara.hedderwick@greenspacescotland.org.uk

New Consultation about Allotment Legislation launched

June 27th, 2018 by sagswebmaster

The new Allotment Legislation in Section 9 of the Community Empowerment Bill came into force on April 1 2018.  Local Authorities must implement this legislation and the Scottish Government has committed to providing Guidance for them on implementing sections that might appear difficult or contentious.  The Government has now published a draft version of this Guidance and has opened it for public consultation.

The guidance covers the following 10 sections of Part 9 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, where Ministers considered that additional guidance to local authorities would be helpful:

  • Section 110 – Offer to lease allotment
  • Section 111 – Duty to maintain list
  • Section 112 – Duty to provide allotments
  • Section 114 – Access to allotment and allotment site
  • Sections 115 and 116 – Allotment site regulations; allotment site regulations: further provision
  • Section 119 – Duty to prepare food-growing strategy
  • Section 120 – Duty to review food-growing strategy
  • Section 123 – Delegation of management of allotment sites
  • Section 124 – Promotion and use of allotments: expenditure

 

Those of you who responded to the previous consultation last autumn may have already received notice of this consultation which is aimed significantly but not exclusively at Local Authorities.  As in any negotiating situation not all of SAGS’ concerns have been met.  Once we have considered our response to the issues we will post our suggestions on this web site.  We will also contact as many of you as we can to ask for your further support. Our aim is to ensure the Guidance will support the direction Local Authorities will take to ensure Part 9 meets the needs of allotments in the future.

Go to this page : https://consult.gov.scot/food-and-drink/part-9-allotments/

Here you can read about the consultation, download the draft guidance document and the consultation document and click a link to fill in your responses on line.

SAGS gets grant for Resilient Allotment Communities

March 5th, 2018 by sagswebmaster
Tools The Scottish Government has made some money available to help small community organisations facing disadvantage become more resiliant.  SAGS has been allocated some of this money to distribute among its members.

It has been decided to purchase 16 packs of tools to pass on to allotment sites to be used by the plot holders.  For example a new plot holder could borrow the tools until he/she is able to purchase them, or they could be available on general loan.

To apply for these tool packs a site must be a SAGS member, or a member of an allotment federation that is a SAGS member.  The site must also be in or near an area of multiple deprivation.  Click on this link to download a pdf giving fuller details of what is available and how to apply.  Applications should be received by 31 March 2018.

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?