Raploch is located in the heart of Central Scotland. It is an increasingly excluded community, characterised by high unemployment, poor health, poor quality housing, low educational achievement and a lack of choice and opportunity.
Local health problems include high incidence of heart disease and obesity. This can be attributed, in part, to the poor nutritional habits of local residents, who tend to favour fast food over fresh fruit and vegetables.
In recent years, local resident, working in collaboration with the Raploch Community Partnership (RCP), have sought to improve the social, environmental and economic fabric of the area. A key element of this regeneration activity is the communal growing of fruit and vegetables on under-used land.
The Green and Growing Raploch project is located on a brownfield site in Kildean. This site sits on a thick band of clay and is affected by soil contamination issues. As these conditions are not conducive to successful vegetable growing, it was decided appropriate to set up raised beds on the site. This also had the benefit of avoiding certain planning restrictions and makes the installation relatively easy to relocate if the land is required for other purposes.
The local community turned out in force to help set up the project and demand for the raised beds is high. There has also been much demand for training sessions held at the Kildean site. These sessions instruct gardening novices how to grow fruit and vegetables and encourage the sharing of gardening knowledge amongst the residents of Raploch.
The project encourages local residents to engage in physical activity, and the friendly and inclusive spirit that pervades the community growing site promotes wellbeing.
The project facilitates healthy eating by increasing the availability of fresh fruit and vegetables. The increased availability of local produce also contributes to a reduced carbon footprint as it lessens the area's reliance on transported foods.
The new greenspace created by the project improves the physical appearance of the area and can be accessed and enjoyed by the local community.
“This project gives local people an excellent opportunity and support to grow their own food. It makes good use of an otherwise derelict piece of land and provides opportunities for social development.”
Councillor John Hendry
The CSGN Development Fund contributed directly towards the development of the Kildean Community Garden. As a pilot project, the growing area has been a success. It has delivered a new vibrant greenspace in a disadvantaged community and provided a transferrable model for regeneration that can be applied to other Raploch projects and beyond.
The Kildean Community Garden is collaborating with neighbouring growing initiatives to distribute surplus produce to the local community through a healthy foods café. There is also an ambition to create a full-time gardener post and part-time chef post to show people how to grow and cook tasty, nutritious food.
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