Harmeny Community Garden

Background

Harmeny Community Garden was created in the Spring of 2013, to provide a highly therapeutic space for children to learn about gardening, play, and experience the wonders of nature.

The garden was developed by a core group of staff, in partnership with children, parents and carers, and was made possible through the generosity of: The RS Macdonald Charitable Trust, Awards for All, People’s Post Code Trust, Edinburgh Airport Community Fund and The Friends of Harmeny.

We have also been very fortunate to benefit form groups of volunteers from organisations such as Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, St Mungo’s Church, and ‘The Dirty Weekenders’ (Edinburgh University Conservation Group), who have greatly helped to develop the garden’s infrastructure.

The garden is now fully developed, is integrated into the school Curriculum, and provides a range of delicious produce for inclusion within our healthy eating programme, and for sale at the local farmer’s market. Our part-time gardener, Sean Jacques, works with children, staff and the local community to enable an exciting array of activities and learning experiences.

Infrastructure & Crops

The garden has been developed to include a wide variety of growing, learning and therapeutic spaces, including:

  • A polytunnel and classroom hut
  • A willow dome, with seating, providing a space for therapeutic work and storytelling
  • A variety of paths, a patio, and a Barbecue area with seating
  • Several raised beds for classrooms to grow their own vegetables
  • A large strip of cultivated land, allowing rows of vegetable crops to be grown
  • A herb garden
  • A fruit cage
  • Sensory flower beds, with weaving paths and a small pond
  • A musical corner with percussion instruments
  • A forest garden, with fruit trees
  • Arts and crafts, including a beautiful willow horse
  • A composting area and a wormery.

A wide range of organic vegetables and fruit is grown every year, with our catering team enthusiastically engaging with the gardener and volunteers, regarding the crops available for use within school menus.

There has been universal feedback in relation to the impact of the garden on healthy eating, with children now being more likely to eat the vegetables they have grown and to be involved in making healthy meals. Vegetables and herbs are also sold at the local farmer’s market enabling children to evidence enterprise skills.

Children also enjoy wandering into the garden on their own and playing with friends, and are allowed to help themselves to fruit and vegetables. They also take great pride in showing their family and other visitors round the garden.

Experiences & Outcomes

The garden offers a wide range of educational and therapeutic opportunities for children, including:

  • Practical skills including joinery, painting and the use of hand and power tools
  • Sowing seeds and planting, alongside staff and volunteers
  • Learning about horticulture, science and the environment, through weekly class lessons
  • Leisure activities including a gardening club, storytelling, barbecues and games
  • A weekly ‘Garden Grub Café’ run by S1 / S2 pupils for staff and other pupils
  • Interdisciplinary learning incorporating literacy, numeracy, expressive arts, craft design & technology, history and enterprise.

The outcomes achieved by children have exceeded all expectations, with numerous examples of progress being shown across a number of key areas. A few are listed below:

  • The development of friendships through working in pairs and small groups
  • Increased time with siblings, parents and carers, gardening together and enjoying each others’ company in the relaxed atmosphere
  • Improved self regulation, with children focusing on gardening activities for longer periods of time than they are usually able
  • Healthier eating, with children tasting a wide range of healthy vegetables and fruit, which they would never otherwise have tried
  • Increased enthusiasm in cooking and preparing meals, using the produce from the garden.

Community Involvement

The Community Garden also offers great opportunity for community involvement.

Children have participated in competitions, creating ‘pallet gardens’ for the annual Gardening Scotland event at Ingleston as well as entering individual vegetables they have grown at the Currie Horticultural Show. This has resulted in a number of awards and medals being won by individual and groups of children, leading to increased confidence and a huge sense of pride and achievement.

Open Days are organised within the garden throughout the year, allowing members of the public to learn horticultural skills and experience the benefits of the garden. Staff and children sell produce at the local Farmers Market and the Community Gardener and children are involved with the local Apple Day and Tattie Day!

Contact

To find out more about the Community Garden, contact Sean Jacques, Community Gardener on 0131 449 3938 or at: admin@harmeny.org.uk