Farm News  |   March 1, 2022

Our first newsletter!

As the project picks up pace and more starts to happen down on the land we have started putting together a monthly update to keep our friends and neighbours informed about what we’re up to…

So here it is, the very first Lauriston Farm newsletter.
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Hello and welcome to the first newsletter from Lauriston Farm! We aim to send around this monthly newsletter to keep everyone informed of what’s going on and our progress in creating the UK’s largest agroecological urban farm!

We have had lots of exciting goings-on down on the land over the last few weeks and we have lots more planned in the next few! If you feel like lending a hand, we are looking for lots of volunteers to help us plant trees, an important first step in turning our big, empty fields into productive growing spaces and habitats for wild animals.

We are running tree planting sessions every Saturday and Sunday, and some weekdays, from Feb 26 until the end of March (or until we run out of trees). To see the dates and register to help at tree planting sessions, follow the link here.

What is Lauriston Farm?

As this is our first newsletter, we thought we’d tell you a bit about the project and what’s happened so far. For more information you can always check out the rest of our website.

Lauriston Farm is a 100 acre site of arable fields in Northwest Edinburgh, the land slopes down from Lauriston Castle to the sea and is surrounded by the communities of Silverknowes, Muirhouse and Cramond. Edinburgh Agroecology Cooperative has been making plans and liaising with City of Edinburgh Council (the landowners) over the last two years and have negotiated a 25 year lease. The three main areas of focus for the farm are food growing, community and biodiversity.

At the moment it’s still just empty fields but we’ve been hard at work putting in deer fencing, planting some trees and marking out the first plots for community allotments.

Over the coming years we plan to bring the land to life, working with local residents and community groups to transform the fields with a market garden, field crops, agroforestry alleys, woodlands, wildflower areas, orchards and ponds, wetlands and hedgerows. We aim to grow up to 50 types of vegetables on the farm and increase biodiversity at the same time.

What’s happened so far?

Back in December we had our first tree planting session with volunteers helping plant the first 270 trees on the site, you can check out the video here.

We have also welcomed the first community groups to our allotment plots – FreshStart, Project Esperanza and Muirhouse 50+ (keep an eye on our social media in the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at these fantastic groups and what their plans are for the plots).

We have become partners in the Dandelion project, which will see the creation of a special garden and workshop space on the farm, and a series of activities and events for the community culminating in a Harvest festival in September. There will be more info about all these exciting happenings being shared over the next few months.

What’s happening next?

Lots of Tree and Hedgerow planting! We are planting 9000 trees over the next five weeks and need many hands to help us do it. You can sign up for tree planting here. We’re running volunteer days every weekend until April so please sign up for an AM or PM slot if you can.

As well as creating access tracks, paths and starting land prep in the market garden, over the coming weeks we will also be doing a lot of biodiversity work.

We will be establishing a mixed hedgerow all along the east boundary of the site – almost a kilometre of new hedge! We are also creating an extensive area of amphibian habitat to include breeding, feeding and overwintering features. Spoil from excavation will be used to create bee banks which will be planted and seeded with native wildflowers. We will be monitoring biodiversity on the farm with camera traps, please keep dogs on leads on the site to avoid interference with this monitoring equipment.

And last, but by no means least – our new shelter has been delivered, in the form of a portacabin. This will be the first structure on the farm and it will give us somewhere to have a cuppa between farm jobs.

Get involved!

We are holding our first weekly drop in community gardening session, this Thursday (March 3) 1-3pm, open to everyone. The community garden is inside the allotment, go through the gate from the back of Toby Carvery car park, past the containers, and its the gate on your right.
It’s our first session, so it will be all about preparing beds and pathways and getting ideas for how to design the plot. Dress for the weather, wellies for the mud are best.

We are currently recruiting a Musician in Residence to work with us and North Edinburgh Arts on the Dandelion project. We are especially keen for people living in North Edinburgh to apply and those from any musical genre including electronic, singer songwriters, hip hop, jazz, fusion! – more info on the job and how to apply can be found here.

To fill our new portacabin we will be asking for donations to help get us started. We will be putting together a list of skills and items that would really help, we’ll put it on our social media and in the next newsletter.

We will aim to send out another newsletter next month telling you more about all the biodiversity and habitat enhancement work we’re doing, what else has been happening on the farm and letting you know ways you can get involved with the project. Until then keep an eye on our social media for more frequent updates, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

(Picture credit: Swithun Crowe)

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