East Kilbride Community Trust (EKCT) were over the moon this week when staff and volunteers involved with the Community Food Growing Programme pulled our first tatties, picked the first peapods and harvested our first vegetable haul after nearly 4 months of graft, planting and growing vegetables from seed during the COVID Pandemic.
Prior to this health crisis, EKCT had planned to run a growing programme at our K-Woodlands site, as a unique way to engage with people across East Kilbride living with poor mental health. The project had aimed to help reduce social isolation by creating a safe space for group discussion and community gardening. Through sharing stories and experiences, whilst sowing seeds, watering, feeding, and nurturing their plants, the overall desired outcome was to help encourage individuals to consider adopting strategies where they would apply that same level of care towards themselves.
Despite the COVID 19 outbreak, EKCT managed to adapt our plans and respond quickly to a community need by creating the Community Food Growing Programme. This meant that instead of focussing solely on mental health, we considered the community as a whole and what was needed during these unprecedented times. With the help of existing (and some new) volunteers we: collected recyclables to use as pots from kind people all across East Kilbride; cleaned out & removed labels from tubs/bottles; cut items to size; drilled drainage holes; built raised beds from pallets; wheelbarrowed tonnes of soil; planted thousands of seeds; re-potted what felt like a million seedlings; watered & fed EVERYTHING; and now have picked, pulled and gathered our first harvest!
We have been lucky enough to receive significant support throughout this period from local people and businesses who have helped: to keep us safe by donating hand sanitiser to set up cleaning stations – thanks to Gordon at GSS Contracts for that as well as giving EKCT hundreds of large containers to repurpose as plant pots; Norman from David Thomson Haulage donated hundreds of pallets and Brian Bingham from Highlander donated huge plastic, paper and cardboard waste containers so we were able to make our own raised beds in order to grow all of this produce; Adio and Vasco from Adio’s Fish Bar who donated large tin cans and polystyrene fish boxes to use as planters; Peter Inglis of Jinxys Bakery for his various large recyclable food containers; and James Bias from Morrison’s Lindsayfield who also gave us polystyrene boxes as well as hundreds of the large plastic tubs they have their flowers delivered in, all of which have proved most useful.
By working in partnership with South Lanarkshire Council’s Community Engagement Team, we have connected with other charities and groups based within East Kilbride who are best placed to distribute fresh produce to those vulnerable and shielding individuals across our community. With our first crop ready to harvest, we were delighted to be put in touch with Share Alike, one of the local organisations providing such essential support, which is headed up by East Kilbride resident, Annemarie Campbell, who makes it all happen. We are so pleased to have been put in touch with both Share Alike and Annemarie after hearing that all of our freshly picked produce went out to all those most in need across our community within 24 hours of being collected!
Monique McAdams, EKCT CEO, said, “After us working with so many kind organisations and individuals throughout this extraordinary time, we are extremely grateful and look forward to continuing our successful partnership work. We hope to seize many more opportunities to grow and share all the lovely, local vegetables the volunteers and staff from the EKCT Community Food Growing Programme have worked so hard to produce. To those of whom have been involved, we cannot thank you enough!”