Spring has sprung in Edinburgh (amongst other places!)

We’ve been having a busy couple of months with the Edinburgh Midweek Group this season, having completed several projects in and around Edinburgh and the Lothians, as well as a huge display of teamwork and hard work at the Seven Lochs project in Glasgow where we worked alongside the Stirling and Glasgow volunteers for eight weeks!

Team Edinburgh!

Volunteers from Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow Mid Week Groups.

Back in February the group started helping out at the beautiful Howden Walled Garden in Livingston. Here our aim was to create an edible walkway around the garden’s walls for the community to enjoy. The first task was to clear the walls and the ground to make room for some fruit trees and bushes – no easy feat! Fortunately someone had kindly left a supermarket trolley in the grounds to help us with the moving!

The volunteers were also kept busy repairing a beautiful walkway made of willow, for the local community to enjoy.

A few weeks later we returned to the garden to plant the fruit bushes; raspberries, gooseberries, cherries and strawberries, among a few others. What a difference!

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At the end of February we started work at the Seven Lochs Wetland Park in Glasgow; an urban nature project focused on protecting and enhancing the biodiversity and heritage of the wetland area, as well as providing a space for locals and visitors to enjoy (GCV Green Network Partnership).
Alongside the Stirling and Glasgow teams, our volunteers worked hard over the course of almost two months! We undertook a variety of tasks; preparing the land for wildflower planting, digging ponds and creating water channels, as well as some general woodland management work.

We also worked hard to improve the boardwalk at Hogganfield Park, placing non-slip grip strips (try saying that quickly three times!) along each plank of wood to make it safer for visitors to enjoy the beautiful views over the loch.

Our favourite project (or mine at least!) was helping to create floating bio-havens to sit on top of the loch. These bio-havens were made of recycled materials and adorned with various wetland plants (gathered by our volunteers). They will be providing a key shelter for birds and pond life on the loch.

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Across April and May we’ve been doing various bits and pieces of work at the Peebles Community Action Network (CAN) Garden. Our first big job was to help lay the wooden foundations of the new flower beds and path within their brand new poly tunnel.

The next time we visited we spent an amazingly sunny (and very warm!) couple of days building an incredible 16 new raised beds for the garden. It was a brilliant team effort and we had some fantastic help from the local families who would be using the beds, giving them the opportunity to see how they were built and to be part of the building process. Even the little ones were keen to help!

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Although we’ve been busy doing work elsewhere, we certainly haven’t forgotten about our local Edinburgh parks!
In the lovely Figgate Park near Portobello our volunteers helped with some path clearance, working to make the stairs safer and more accessible. We were also helping to stabilise the river bank by panting native shrubs and trees, which will also help to increase biodiversity and create wildlife habitats.

We’ve also been busy in Starbank Park this year, working closely with their ‘Friends Of’ group. Some of the tasks we’ve been involved in were neatening their path edges, trimming bed borders, clearing away vegetation in preparation for summer growth, lots and lots of weeding and, of course, the most coveted job; helping to turn and cycle their compost area.

Last but not least, we were in the beautiful Braidburn Valley Park doing path edging. What a difference we made!

It’s been a wonderful and jam-packed few months and we’re all looking forward to spending some more time in the sun (and the rain) over summer!

Kathryn (Volunteer Officer)

Winter fun in Edinburgh

Throughout November and December the Edinburgh Mid Week volunteer group has been full of activity, visiting some old favourites along with some great new sites. We’ve been extremely lucky with the weather, with mostly beautiful sunny (but sometimes chilly days) and only a couple of days with rain (not that that would stop us!).

The amazing view from the Friary Community Garden

The amazing view from the Friary Community Garden

At the start of November the group were back at the wonderful Friary Community Garden in Inverkeithing. There’s always a great variety of tasks to keep the gang busy here and it’s always a pleasure working here as we are treated to a spectacular view across the Firth of Forth.

Modelling the latest in vegetable hat wear at the Friary Community Garden

Modelling the latest in vegetable hat wear at the Friary Community Garden

Working with a smile at the Friary

Working with a smile at the Friary

Re-purposing old material to create weed suppressors at the Friary Community Garden

Re-purposing old material to create weed suppressors at the Friary Community Garden

Speaking of amazing views, the volunteers have also been back to the beautiful Starbank Park in the north of Edinburgh numerous times. Here we’ve been continuing to help them to neaten up their footpath borders and to clear the autumn leaves around the park. The lovely Friends of Starbank Park are always on hand with cakes and other yummy treats to keep our volunteers going (which, given the steep incline of the park, is much needed after carting bag after bag of leaves up the hill to the compost bins!).

Fantastic rainbow photo opportunity at Starbank Park

Fantastic rainbow photo opportunity at Starbank Park

Leaves, leaves everywhere!

Leaves, leaves everywhere!

Clearing leaves with a fantastic view at Starbank Park

Clearing leaves with a fantastic view at Starbank Park

Continuing the theme of tasty treats to keep our volunteers going, we’ve been back to Gracemount Walled Garden several times where their amazing chef always has a small feast for us to enjoy at lunchtime. In order to earn their lunches the volunteers have been hard at work improving the footpath around the garden and continuing to maintain the woodland to the rear of the garden. Here the group have done a fantastic job of cutting back the trees and widening the footpath to improve access to the garden from the local park.

Beautiful autumnal scenes at Gracemount Walled Garden

Beautiful autumnal scenes at Gracemount Walled Garden

Monkeying around in the woodland at Gracemount

Monkeying around in the woodland at Gracemount

Brilliant before and after of some impressive footpath improvement at Gracemount Walled Garden

Brilliant before and after of some impressive footpath improvement at Gracemount Walled Garden

Footpath maintenance in action at Gracemount

Footpath maintenance in action at Gracemount

We’ve also had the pleasure of working at some fantastic new sites in the last couple of months. First off was Warriston Cemetery where the volunteers helped to plant lots of bulbs (mainly daffodils ready for next Spring) and helped to create some new dead hedging using material from around the cemetery.

Creating stakes for a dead hedge at Warriston Cemetery

Creating stakes for a dead hedge at Warriston Cemetery

Dead hedging at Warriston Cemetery

Dead hedging at Warriston Cemetery

Next up was the fantastic Figgate Park tucked away in the east of the city near Portobello. Here the volunteers spent the day helping to uncover some amazing bug hotels that had been completely overwhelmed by vegetation. It was a site that none of our volunteers had visited before and all of them were blown away by the beauty of the park and thoroughly enjoyed their day.

Smiles all round after a hard day's work at Figgate Park

Smiles all round after a hard day’s work at Figgate Park

Vegetation clearance at Figgate Park

Vegetation clearance at Figgate Park

Another beautiful autumnal scene at Figgate Park

Another beautiful autumnal scene at Figgate Park

Before and after of our work at Figgate Park

Before and after of our work at Figgate Park

Last but not least, the group had the chance to work right in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre on Calton Hill, a popular tourist hot spot thanks to its brilliant views across the city. Here the volunteers primarily helped with footpath maintenance; straightening the path borders and clearing vegetation.

Hard at work on Calton Hill

Hard at work on Calton Hill

Lovely neat borders at Calton Hill

Lovely neat borders at Calton Hill

Now as winter closes in it’s almost time for us to hang up our waterproofs for the Christmas break, so from everyone here at TCV Edinburgh have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ali (Volunteer Officer)

Join in this years Great British Beach Clean!

Every year, The Marine Conservation Society runs the UK’s biggest beach clean and Citizen Science survey – The Great British Beach Clean!

beach clean

There is an unacceptable amount of litter and waste in our oceans which is having a devastating effect on our wildlife. Many animals such as whales, turtles, sharks, seals, birds, and dolphins, are accidentally eating or becoming entangled in rubbish which all too often leads to their death.

Plastic never truly biodegrades, its takes thousands of years to break down and even then it doesn’t really every disappear; it just becomes little pieces floating in the sea. In some areas of the ocean it is thought that tiny pieces of plastic outnumber plankton 26:1. These plastic pieces, and the toxins within them, are ingested by animals and bio-accumulate in their bodies, they are then magnified up the food chain and humans now have plastic toxins in their bodies from eating seafood.

That is just some examples of how plastic is ruining our planet, and the huge scale of this problem is often only demonstrated when litter is washed ashore on our beaches. It is estimated that 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the ocean every year. To say the statistics are depressing would be a massive understatement, but there is something you can do to help!

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The Great British Beach Clean, which runs from the 16th – 19th September, is more than just a litter pick. By recording what type of litter you find and where, with as much detail as possible, conservationists can work out where the litter is coming from and what needs to be done where to minimise damage and identify large waste producing areas and industries.

Events are happening all over the country! In the central belt we have:

Cramond in Edinburgh on the 17th of Sept at 10am: http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/beach/cramond/event/2016-09-17

Tentsmuir Point NNR on  the 17th of Sept at 11am: http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/beach/tentsmuir-point-national-nature-reserve/event/2016-09-17

More events to follow

Take a look on the Marine Conservation Society’s website to find a beach clean and survey near you or how to organize your own one!

http://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean

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Best of luck and happy beach cleaning!

 

Dogwood Demolition at Danskine Loch

As July came to an end we said a fond farewell to Danskine Loch, a site that the Edinburgh Midweek Group volunteers have been at almost every week since February in conjunction with Scottish Natural Heritage.

It’s a beautiful secluded Site of Special Scientific Interest near Gifford and was designated as an SSSI due to its large fen woodland and open freshwater – habitats which are rare in East Lothian. Unfortunately invasive dogwood had grown at the edge of the loch and had developed into dense thickets which smothered the native plant life, altered the wildlife habitats and reduced the flow into the loch.
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Our volunteers have been working hard to rid the loch of this pesky dogwood, using loppers and bow-saws to chop it down and then (the fun bit!) burning it in large bonfires. It was hard but satisfying work and the interesting fen woodland has finally re-emerged from behind the ‘red sea’ of dogwood. pic 2

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Thankfully we were blessed by some beautiful, warm sunny days more recently but as we started work in February, we also had some rather cold, wet and wintry days to contend with. pic4

However, nothing can dampen the spirits of our dedicated and enthusiastic team of hard-working volunteers (as long as there’s a well stocked tea and biscuit kit to keep them going of course!).

Mind the GAP! TCV’s Gartnavel Green Activity Project goes live!

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TCV Scotland is starting work on a new and exciting project at Gartnavel Hospital in Glasgow… The Gartnavel Green Activity Project will be working with patients, staff, visitors and the local community to promote the incredible health benefits of the great outdoors.

Gartnavel Hospital campus is made up of several major hospitals and smaller specialist units. The oldest buildings on the site (East and West Houses) were built in 1842 as a pioneering psychiatric hospital set in 66 acres of ground. There was also a working farm at Gartnavel up until the 1960s which provided food for the hospital kitchens and a space for meaningful work and therapeutic activity for patients.

Through the Gartnavel Green Activity Project, TCV will be promoting and developing the existing green spaces and offering an exciting range of new outdoor activities which will help maintain the Gartnavel campus as a welcoming and attractive environment for both people and wildlife.

willow arch in walled garden smallThe Walled Garden

We’ve got loads of great things planned, including:
– delivering a regular Green Gym at Gartnavel, offering locals and people from further afield the chance to get involved in practical volunteering
– providing opportunities for staff, patients and visitors to enjoy the hospital grounds, such as through a programme of themed walks
– coordinating The Growing Spaces – a flagship project of Glasgow Royal Hospital’s ‘Art in the Gart’ (a programme which supports the delivery of meaningful, therapeutic and creative activity for mental health recovery and wellbeing)
– launch of the “Keep Out” campaign, which will encourage staff to take a step outside at lunch time and after work

flowersPlants for the Growing Spaces

This project is funded by the Green Exercise Partnership, which is made up of the Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and NHS Health Scotland. The Green Exercise Partnership has been carrying out environmental improvements on site for over two years, and we are now on board to deliver exciting events to engage people in the new green infrastructure.

Finally, a date for your diary…come along to ‘Over the Wall’, the annual neighbourhood festival with something for all the family, which is taking place at Gartnavel on Saturday 27th August from 1-5pm!

If you’d like to find out more about the project or get involved by volunteering on practical tasks or helping organise and run events, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Melanie Hall on m.hall@tcv.org.uk or 07977406900