May 1, 2012

Toryglen Community Market Garden

Glasgow City
Community Growing, Employment & Training, Vacant & Derelict Land
CSGN Development Fund
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Lead Partners:
Urban Roots
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Toryglen was developed as a social housing scheme in the 1950s and 1960s. It was one of Glasgow's earliest experiments in multi-storey housing and provided modern homes with indoor bathrooms and central heating to approximately 2,500 households from Glasgow's inner city.

By the 1980s, the optimism that had surrounded the policy of high rise housing had waned. Communal spaces were poorly maintained and a lack of facilities impacted negatively on community cohesion. As the local economy declined, unemployment in the area rose, and residents became concerned about drug and alcohol misuse, crime, and vandalism.

Project background

Urban Roots evolved out of Toryglen Gardening Club. It is a community led organisation working across the Southside of Glasgow.  It is committed to working with local people on projects that improve the environment and health of the area through a range of activities including community gardening, conservation and biodiversity. Its work aims to inspire people and communities to connect with nature and to take practical action to tackle the root causes of climate change.

In 2012, Glasgow City Council provided Urban Roots with two acres of vacant land for the development of a market garden and orchard. This project sought to encourage community cohesion and environmental improvement in the area of Toryglen.

How the project was delivered

Urban Roots employed a Project Coordinator to develop proposals for the market garden. Over 900 local residents were consulted on the plans for the site and the final proposals were implemented in partnership with volunteers from the local community.

Urban Roots facilitate two weekly sessions for local people to assist with the growing of fruit and vegetables at the Community Market Garden. Volunteers include people with additional support needs, mental health problems, addiction issues and the long term unemployed. They are given the opportunity to learn about gardening and are eligible to take away a share of the produce in exchange for a day's volunteering. The Community Market Garden provides space for seven local families to grow their own produce in purpose-built beds.

Any food that is not taken home by the volunteers is delivered to local shops where it is sold to the local community at accessible prices. The income generated from the sale of this produce helps to reduce reliance on external funding and contributes towards financial sustainability of the project.

Urban Roots has developed the Community Market Garden as a hub for learning and personal development. Four Market Gardeners have been given the opportunity to gain work experience in managing the garden, horticultural practice, harvesting, packing, and supporting volunteers, and Urban Roots has developed a workshop programme covering themes such as living willow structures, herbal remedies, foraging, organic gardening, beekeeping and cookery.

Urban Roots is working with five local schools and colleges to develop projects in the Community Market Garden. The projects focus on biodiversity and garden design, and build awareness of the benefits of locally produced fresh fruit and vegetables. The projects complement the Eco-Schools Awards Programme and the Curriculum for Excellence, and produce outcomes across a broad range of subjects.

Urban Roots has held two events at the Community Market Garden, attracting over 300 people. These events give visitors the opportunity to participate in hands on activities such as felt making, green woodworking, herbal remedy making and other environmental skills that promote the project as a whole.

Project outcomes

This project provides opportunities for local residents to cultivate practical skills and gain valuable work experience. Volunteers frequently report feeling happier and healthier, and a there is burgeoning sense of community spirit in and around the Community Market Garden.

Urban Roots builds awareness of the environmental impact of air freighted produce and help to reduce food miles by increasing the availability of locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables. They also encourage people to improve their diets and facilitate active lifestyles by providing opportunities for the residents of Toryglen to participate in gardening activities.

Quotes from participants and beneficiaries

"It's hard to put into words just how beneficial this has been for me. I just feel so much happier and healthier"

- Volunteer

"This course has been brilliant – the best training I've ever been on!"

- Teacher on CPD training course with Urban Roots


Greener Scotland – Greener Communities Award 2013

CSGN Support and Learning

The Community Market Garden promotes community cohesion in Toryglen. It acts as a shared greenspace for the local community to use and enjoy, facilitating social interaction and inclusion.

As a thriving community growing space the Community Market Garden increases access to locally grown food and supports good dietary health. It also promotes active lifestyles by encouraging local people to participate in gardening projects.

As a result of this project, two acres of vacant land have been brought back into active use. The focus on organic gardening and permaculture encourages biodiversity and has helped to improve the aesthetic of Toryglen.

This initiative has provided training opportunities for local residents, instilling them with confidence and providing them with the work experience necessary to secure employment in today's ultra-competitive labour market.

Future development of project

Urban Roots is seeking funding to support further greenspace projects within the new housing developments in North Toryglen.

Funding Details:

Year Fund Value
2012 CSGN Development Fund 73,419

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