Edinburgh Agroecology Co-op is proposing a new vision for Lauriston Farm.

Our vision is for a large scale urban food growing project which is nature rich, and which will benefit primarily the communities that live in the local area but also the wider city into the future.

We aim to address some of the issues around access to local, affordable fresh produce, environmental degradation and lack of opportunities for people in cities to gain experience in food production resulting in a greater understanding of the wider food system.

This land and proposed project has the potential to deliver many benefits including increased access to affordable locally grown food, increased biodiversity and enrichment of local wildlife habitats, carbon capture, multiple avenues for training and education around food growing and biodiversity and for celebration and coming together through community activities and events.

In the longer term we plan to provide support for other micro enterprises and increase skills and knowledge in land based work.

We view this as a unique opportunity to create a large urban farm in Scotland that will be beneficial for the land and the people.

Who we are?

We’ve had a few questions about who we are, so let us introduce ourselves!

Edinburgh Agroecology Co-operative (EAC) is a Community Interest Company (CIC), newly formed for developing this project. The founding members of the EAC each have a close personal connection to north-west Edinburgh, whether through living in the area, in depth work with the local communities and environment, or both. Between us we have expertise in food growing and farming, urban biodiversity and landscape ecology, woodland conservation, horticulture, food processing, community development and engagement, seed saving and project management. For all of us, the Lauriston proposal stands to be one of the most exciting projects we have ever been involved with.

The current directors of the EAC are:

Leonie Alexander

Leonie has worked as an Ecologist in Scotland for over 30 years. Her current role with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh aims to enhance biodiversity in the city in partnership with local community groups. A key focus is the Edinburgh Shoreline project which aims to increase awareness of the rich cultural and biodiversity interest of Edinburgh’s coast and to engage communities in considering the best options for its future. Most excited about: transforming Lauriston Farm into a rich wildlife paradise Favourite vegetable: kale - weird but true

Antonia Dickson

Toni is an experienced community development coordinator. Previously, she has owned a food business, worked on various land projects and worked as a woodland ecologist and conservationist, with Reforesting Scotland and the European Forestry Institute, which has led to a keen interest in agroforestry systems and how they can be implemented in an urban environment. Most excited about: Seeing urban agroforestry in action and learning and sharing knowledge with others Favourite vegetable: Cauliflower

Lisa Houston

Lisa moved home to Edinburgh in 2019 and now works with community organisations in Granton on food growing and provision after many years in south east Asia where she practised and taught organic farming, seed-saving and earthen building. She has 20 years’ experience working with grassroots organisations from marginalised communities as well as international human rights organisations. Most excited about: the opportunity for getting more people involved in seed-saving and having dirty hands most of the time Favourite vegetable: Pumpkin (in a curry, not in a pie)

The other people who were involved in the research and development of the business plan are:

Charlie Hanks

Charlie has worked in north Edinburgh for four years, setting up Granton Garden Bakery with Granton Community Gardeners and Pilton Community Health Project. Since 2015, he has worked on food justice at a Scottish level, on Nourish Scotland's right to food campaign and alongside Scotland the Bread. Most excited about: creating meaningful land-based opportunities for young people in Edinburgh. Favourite vegetable: pumpkin

Dave Shand

Dave has 14 years of professional horticultural experience. In 2016 he was a founding member of Taybank Growers Co-operative, a market garden and Community Supported Agriculture scheme in Perthshire, and took an active part in running the community farm where the co-op is based. Most excited about: Building land based community, that includes food production, in Edinburgh Favourite vegetable: Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Jamie Somerville

Jamie has been involved in organic food production and agroecology in Scotland for 10 years, growing vegetables at market garden scale and rearing livestock. His experience lies in permaculture practices and no dig systems.

As we’ve put this proposal together we have been fortunate to receive excellent advice from many organisations, notably Nourish Scotland, City of Edinburgh Council, Landworkers’ Alliance, and Community Supported Agriculture UK, and from individual experts in regenerative agriculture all over Scotland, the UK and beyond.

As this project progresses and if we secure a lease for the project to go ahead, we will be looking for people to join the co-op, board and advisory committee - Priorities for recruiting other members of the EAC are: people with complementary skill sets, shared values (regenerative agriculture, wealth redistribution and ways of working together), marginalized and/or local people who have less opportunities for getting into land work.

Federated Hermes kindly funded the running of the community consultation and the research and development stage of the strategy and business plan.