New community garden for Govanhill

Govanhill Housing AssociationWaste ground in Glasgow’s Govanhill has been transformed into a green space for local people.

GREAT Gardens, the charitable subsidiary of Govanhill Housing Association, has led development of the community garden, which was officially opened yesterday by first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is also MSP for Glasgow Southside.

The garden, which is next to the Association’s headquarters at Samaritan House, Coplaw Street, will be available to local people as a place of rest and relaxation.

Local primary schools and voluntary organisations will also use the garden to learn about plants, gardening and wildlife, and take pride in their environment. The garden includes raised flowerbeds and a growing tunnel, which are designed to attract birds, butterflies and bees. A quiet reflection area has also been developed.

The site, previously waste ground that was part of the former Royal Samaritan Hospital for Women, will also be used as a training centre to help people develop new skills in horticulture and landscaping and move on to further education and training or into work.

Annie Macfarlane, chairperson of GREAT Gardens and a local resident, said: “A feasibility study commissioned by Govanhill Community Development Trust (GCDT), the Association’s other subsidiary, identified this particular site as having great potential and we are thrilled to push forward with our plans.

“We want to encourage people from all walks of life to enjoy the garden, as well as grasping the opportunities to learn about recycling, composting, and how to plant and grow new plants and edible vegetables and herbs.

“Although it is a working garden, we are especially keen to promote the use of additional benefits, such as relaxing in the fresh air, and the therapeutic and educational benefits offered to local schools and groups.

“The support we’ve received from those who backed the project will give the local community a real boost and help equip the centre with tools, seeds for planting and new garden furniture.”

John McLardie, the chairperson of the Association, which owns the site, said: “The decision to carry out this work was taken by local Association tenants and residents who voluntarily serve on the committees of the Association and GCDT.

“As well as being consulted about the development of the garden, we are also looking to involve the community in its management.

“We are sure local people appreciate the work that has gone into transforming this previously unused area and will enjoy using the site in the months and years ahead.”

Funding for the project was provided by the Scottish Government, Big Lottery Fund, the Grow Wild campaign and Glasgow City Council.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I’m delighted to officially open this community garden. It’s a fantastic addition to Govanhill and I’m sure it will be a huge success. I look forward to coming back in future years to see how the project develops.”

Grow Wild contributed £4,000 towards the garden to encourage people to grow native plants and transform communal areas.

Claire Bennett, Grow Wild Scotland partnership manager, added: “There are high proportions of derelict land in the city but these are opportunities for the community to take the land and enjoy growing and learning about wild flowers. The bio-diversity that these areas can provide is also fantastic, with GREAT Gardens already achieving great results through the hard work of their local trainees who are finding ways back into work.”

The opening, which was part of the Glasgow Wildlife Garden Festival, included activities and talks from representatives of GREAT Gardens, Grow Wild and RSPB Scotland.

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