Edinburgh Garden Share Scheme
Often the owners are older people and the gardeners are younger, although this is not necessarily the case. EGSS is currently part of Care and Repair Edinburgh which aims to help older people live independently in their own homes. Concern about a neglected garden can be a significant reason for someone feeling they can no longer cope. EGSS‘s gardeners can reduce or even remove this anxiety for many people.
History and Funding
EGSS began as a council-funded pilot project in West Edinburgh with an additional grant awarded by the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF). This has enabled the project to combine support for older people and create opportunities for volunteers with an important focus on local food production, improving community health and carbon reduction. EGSS is now working towards becoming an independent charity while maintaining good links with Care and Repair which will be leaving the project with the end of CCF funding.
EGSS has successfully matched gardening volunteers with over 40 garden owners in Edinburgh. In many situations a new intergenerational relationship has grown along with the garden. Many of the garden owners have enjoyed spending more time outside and sharing tasks, such as watering tomatoes.
“To have been paired with someone who views the garden as an ongoing and enjoyable pleasure as well as a source of useful produce has been a happy experience. I am looking forward to the garden in Spring as a result of this shared experience.” Garden owner.
“Volunteers have not only been sharing crops but soups, pies and chutneys made from this locally grown food.” Garden Owner.
During some drastic garden clearances the scheme opens up a garden to all volunteers to give the matched volunteer a boost at the start. Usually between 4 to 9 volunteers are involved. The garden owner directs operations and provides welcome cups of tea.
- Match volunteers to gardens within easy reach
- Don’t underestimate how time-consuming looking after food crops can be.
- Set up good, regular communication between volunteers and garden owners.
- Reciprocal caring friendships between gardeners and owners with informal intergenerational relationships developing through regular contact.
- A newsletter – ‘The Turnip’- boosts communication and expertise between volunteers and owners.