As Joshua, one of the students actively involved in care of the St Andrews University Community Garden will tell you, if you plant some seeds in the ground, and take care of them, they will try to grow – that’s essentially all you need to know to start gardening.
Many of us are becoming more interested in sustainable living, growing our own food and learning about British flora, and yet relatively few in St Andrews have heard about the Community Garden, a project that deserves a great deal more recognition.
Out by the observatory on Buchanan Gardens is a neat patch of university-owned land, tended to by volunteer students, staff and members of the local St Andrews community alike. Here, they put a few hours each week into caring for a communal green space filled with all kind of natural, organic edibles. It’s a project overseen by Transition, the environmentally friendly bunch behind schemes like St AndRe-Use and the Inter-Hall Energy competition.
On the day of my visit, it’s a bright, fresh November afternoon, and the day’s gardening session is just starting. On one side of the garden is a pond, around which a little wild patch provides a haven for wildflowers and insects. The rest is divided into beds of flowering plants and veggies – there’s a herb garden bursting with oregano, mint, rosemary, sage and thyme, and nearby are neat rows of spinach, beans, carrots, coriander, rocket, and all kinds of other home-grown greens.
The sheer variety of different seasonal produce growing here is immediately noticeable: from raspberry bushes, to towering artichoke plants, and Nasturtiums – brightly-coloured edible flowers.
Each season brings plenty of different kinds of work to be done, whether it’s weeding, planting and tending, or one of the projects running over this winter: the building of an eco-greenhouse made entirely of recycled plastic bottles, currently being prepared by first-year student Maria.
Many of the students who have joined the initiative come to put in a few hours each week because they miss gardening at home. Some have also been WWOOFing (World-wide opportunities on organic farms) before, but equally there are plenty who had never really gardened before they got onboard the project.
The more active involvement the Garden receives, the more it can develop, and the more people can learn about growing their own seasonal organic produce. OneWorld, Wildsoc and SDsoc know about it, and so should you.
St Andrews University Community Garden, Buchanan Gardens, St Andrews.
Gardening sessions run on Wednesdays & Sundays from 2-4pm. Workshops run monthly, on bee-keeping and composting.