Farm News | April 22, 2022
Welcome to the second Lauriston Farm newsletter…
It’s fair to say things have been pretty busy over the past few weeks: thousands of trees have been planted, ponds dug, meadows prepared, allotments created and work has started on a whole new market garden. We have loads of great ways to get involved; from a paid job as a grower to opportunities for people who want allotment space, as well as the chance to participate in wildlife surveys, grow your own food courses and volunteer days. Take a look below at what we’ve got going on.
The new Market Garden takes shape
On the West of the farm, work has fully begun in the market garden. We’ve had the digger on site again installing our access track, ready for the polytunnel and packing shed to go in soon. We’ve also had compost delivered and have been planting lots of trees for biodiversity and as windbreaks in the field. Propagation has started off the farm and with the help of Granton Community Gardeners we’ll soon be able to move 1000s of wee plants to the market garden ready for transplanting as the weather warms up.
Over the next 8 months we’ll be trying to balance setting up new farm infrastructure with our first growing season on the land. So while we will be growing lots of tasty veggies this year we will also be managing the set up and making sure we are ready for spring 2023.
There will be lots of ways to get involved with the market garden as it develops too. Details below and watch this space for more updates from the market garden and information on our Community Supported Agriculture scheme.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the Market Garden team to get to this point. The support the project has enjoyed has been amazing. We are also very grateful to Central Scotland Green Network and Federated Hermes for their funding and support. We are very excited to be on the land and look forward to growing and sharing an abundance of fresh, tasty food with you all.
Spring work day
We are also holding our first Market Garden volunteer work day on 30th April, with morning and afternoon sessions available. Each will start with a welcome to the market garden and a quick introduction to the food production we are planning. We’ll then do some gardening together. Tasks will probably include:
moving compost and wood chip to build beds and mulch our fruit and trees
planting out some of the first seedlings and setting up crop covers for them
You can sign up here: volunteersignup.org/XQCBT
We are looking for a grower to work in our brand new market garden! It’s a great opportunity to come and be part of Lauriston Farm. If you’ve got green fingers and you like the idea of growing fresh food for the local community, you might be just the person we’re looking for.
The job is four days a week (32 hrs) over the Summer (May/June to October) going down to two days per week over the winter months (Nov to Feb). It’s a one-year contract which we hope to be able to extend, funding permitting. £27,300 gross annual salary PAYE (£18,291 pro rata). Statutory pension contribution and holiday allowance are included.
Closing date for applications: 12 noon on Wednesday 4th May
For full details of the job role visit the post on our website here: https://www.lauristonfarm.scot/posts/77
Community Allotments – spaces available
This year, we have space for 10-15 plots to start, but we are only accepting applications from local groups or organisations; we are not yet open to individuals. A “group” could be a group of neighbours or friends living in the local area or a common interest group. For organisations, we are looking for those which work with local people who would want a plot to bring people to the allotment to gain experience in growing food. Our main focus is to give local people who don’t have access to growing space a chance to learn how to grow food before we open any plots to individuals.
We also have a plot within the allotments that we will use for running food growing workshops and where we are now running open gardening sessions currently every Thursday afternoon from 1-3pm – anyone is welcome to join these.This plot might also be good for any groups or organisations who do not feel ready to take on their own plot, they could bring groups for some light gardening in this plot on a regular basis with some guidance from our experts.If you are part of a group or organisation who would be interested in finding out more, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are asking all allotment holders to sign up to a code of conduct – find the details here.
Grow your own food course
We will also be running a 6 week How to Grow Your Own Food Course starting on Thursday 12th May.
It will be a weekly 2 hour session over 6 weeks, on Thursday mornings. We will cover the basics of how plants grow, different ways to propagate, how seeds grow, mulch and compost, tools, harvesting, perennials and all things horticultural.
Keep an eye out for the course sign-up sheet, which will go out via our blog and social media during the week starting 25th April.
We have now planted around 9,200 trees on the farm in just six weeks!! A huge thank you to the many helping hands we had. We planted 1000m of native mixed hedgerow, 1.5 ha of mixed native broadleaf woodland, shelterbelts and the start of a coppice woodland.
We had roughly 500 people helping over the 6 weeks – many local people and others including scout groups, Green Team, Dirty Weekenders, Rotary Club and some pupils from the Royal High School. A huge thank you to all who came and helped… we can’t list everyone here, but you know who you are! Come back any time over the coming years and take a look at the trees you helped plant.
We will soon be planting up our first rows of trees in the agroforestry alleys. This is a food growing system where crops are grown in between rows of trees.
We are also setting up a Tree Care group – to help check and look after the trees, and plan future tree activity. Anyone interested in joining the group please contact email@example.com
Ponds, meadows and biodiversity
The tree planting, hedge laying and all our other biodiversity work has been made possible thanks to the Nature Restoration Fund from Nature Scot.
As well as planting trees and hedges, we have created seven new amphibian ponds and a huge wildflower meadow. The network of amphibian ponds, which will be surrounded by overwintering and feeding habitat, have been created by Stuart Reid – a highly skilled machine operator. And Grant Prentice has harrowed, seeded and rolled a 440m long area in preparation for our new meadow. He removed the top layer of soil and vegetation in order to reduce fertility so that a diverse range of native Scottish wildflowers can germinate and grow and not be overwhelmed by competitive grasses. A BIG thanks to the Scottish Government for this financial support which is not only making a difference at Lauriston farm but all around Scotland with a £12.5 million annual commitment.
A note on access
If you have been on the farm recently we have been installing more temporary signs regarding access. The aims at Lauriston Farm focus on three things – community, food and wildlife. The wildlife on the farm needs undisturbed space so around a third of the total area has been assigned to habitat enhancement and no access. Routes through the farm have been created as shown on this map.
No disturbance in the two North fields will allow ground nesting birds to rear their chicks successfully and make space for sensitive species like curlew to roost and feed when they are not down on the shore. The bird survey work has already identified skylark displaying on site. These are ground nesting species which are very susceptible to disturbance from people and dogs. We all need to stick to the paths.
Welcome to our new Musician in Residence
We’ve recruited a Musician in Residence. We are delighted to welcome Jose Rojas to work with us and North Edinburgh Arts as part of the nationwide Dandelion project. He’ll be creating new music, working with us and local groups, which will be shared at our Harvest Festival on the 10th of September – a date for your diary – we’ll share more about this and the Summer’s creative programme soon.
You may remember in our last newsletter we mentioned that we will be working with Dandelion to create an Unexpected Garden at the farm. We will be planting up and building this special space over the next few weeks and we’re looking for people to get involved with this. If you would like to be involved in this exciting creative planting and building project please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Come and join us on the farm for a Bioblitz!
Join the Lauriston Farm team and the RSPB to take part in an international citizen science event, the City of Nature Challenge: https://citynaturechallenge.org/
We will be exploring nature on our doorstep using ecological equipment and searching for interesting plants and animals that live on the farm. Together we will identify what we find. Come and make a contribution to global conservation research!
If you can download the iNaturalist app onto your phone that would be helpful but this is not a requirement to participate – please come along regardless. All other resources will be supplied. This is suitable for adults & children. Young people often have a very sharp eye for finding wee things! Bring appropriate outdoor clothing and a packed lunch or snacks.
The event is on the 2nd May from 10.00 am – 1.00 pm. All welcome!
John Frank, a Lauriston Farm volunteer and a very experienced birder, has been leading the first breeding bird survey walks around the farm using the standard British Trust for Ornithology census methodology. Highlights have been yellowhammer – species typical of agricultural landscapes but not noted previously – and skylarks displaying above the fields.
This work is critical in order to understand change over time in response to new land management including habitat enhancement and creation. John has been taking a small group of volunteers out with him so if you are interested sign up here for the April 30th and June 11th walks: volunteersignup.org/RAXB7
That’s all for now, you can keep up with all our goings-on on our social media pages. Thanks for reading and we hope to see you down on the farm soon!