Innerleithen: Edible Garden needs money to stay open

A BORDERS community garden is doing what it can to survive after months of volunteers not being able to access the site.

The Edible Garden, in Innerleithen, has recently reopened for public access.

“We’ve let people come in and pick their own fruit and veg and people have left donations for us,” said Shirley Spence, a member of the Edible Garden’s steering group.

The garden has also created vegetable boxes and a selection of homemade jams and chutneys to help boost funding.

Ms Spence said: “At the end of the day, I need to provide income coming from the garden so that we can pay Alex [Smithson], the part-time gardener, in order to keep the garden functioning.”

During lockdown the garden was cared for by Ms Smithson, because Ms Spence was unavailable – her son was rushed to intensive care with COVID-19.

“Alex managed to get the seedlings in, which is the reason why the garden is still flourishing now,” Ms Spence said.

Leftover produce didn’t go to waste either as it was donated to help support people during the pandemic.

Ms Spence said: “Excess food went up to The Allotment shop, and they used it to put in their vegetable boxes to give out to people that are vulnerable.”

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Ms Spence says the atmosphere in the garden is different, especially without the St Ronan’s Primary School pupils there to help out.

“They would come in and help plant seeds,” she said, “and help propagate the new fruit bushes, and they would help pick stuff in-between learning about the ecosystem.

“Because the children are not coming into the garden now, we’ve noticed a huge difference.

“Alex is hoping in the next couple of weeks she might be able to get one class in at a time to do work in the garden.”

Ms Spence said the community spirit hasn’t disappeared, however, as local businesses – including the newly opened Nina’s Tea 4 You café on Innerleithen’s High Street – are helping by selling and serving the homemade jams and chutneys from the garden.

And, during lockdown, the garden has shared its knowledge with its twinned garden in Thondwe, Malawi, through the local rotary club.

Ms Spence said: “They [the rotary club and Thondwe garden] have been speaking and finding out how the garden works and we’ve been giving information to them.

“It’s quite nice knowing that although we’re restricted in what we can do, the twinned garden in Malawi is thriving.”

For more information on the Edible Garden, visit its Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/groups/439464759930949

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