The garden has become a place of safety
A Fife gardening group has been praised by villagers for providing a vital Covid-19 lifeline for those struggling with loneliness and disability.
Falkland Gardening Group (formerly Falkland in Bloom) has been around for 35 years and during lockdown has established itself as a community savior for many isolated residents.
With over 50 members, the volunteers use the group’s three polytunnels, two raised beds and 14 plots in the village’s Sugar Acre Garden to grow chili peppers, peppers, melons, cape gooseberry, plus a long list other awesome fruits and vegetables.
Surplus produce is donated to the wider community, while the tunnels are also used to propagate small plants for village flower shows.
Amid the pandemic, the garden has become a place of safety for Falklanders who suffer from loneliness and disability by providing socially distanced meeting spaces.
How the Falkland Gardening Group worked with the local landowner to use the land is featured as an inspiring community project in the Scottish Land Commission’s MyLand.Scot campaign, an online initiative to highlight the many benefits that land brings to communities around Scotland.
Local resident Yvonne Purves was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 12 years ago and was given a custom-built raised flowerbed by the group to help her with her disability during the pandemic.
Yvonne, 56, said: “Falkland Gardening Group has played an incredible role in my mental and physical health during the pandemic. Not only did the group create a safe space for me to socialize, but it also gave me a way to stay active during such a difficult time.
“Exercise is key to slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease, so when I was offered a bespoke space, I was overwhelmed. I now offer my fresh produce to my family and the local community.
The gardening group was founded in 1987 and uses land owned by local landowner Ninian Crichton Stuart with the aim of improving the Falklands region with both a horticultural and community focus.
Catriona Parkes, another member of the gardening group who has benefited immensely throughout the lockdown, said: “As a pensioner living alone in Falkland, things have gotten very lonely during the pandemic. I was very lucky to have the garden as an outlet where I could keep busy and see others safely.
Doug Young, chairman of Falkland Gardening Group, helped build the first polytunnel in Sugar Acre in the 1990s and continues to lead the group as a vehicle to help the horticultural and social welfare of locals.
Doug said: “The pandemic has been the biggest challenge we have faced since forming the band. We managed to turn the situation around and use it as a force for good, giving people the opportunity to get out there and do something to improve their mental and physical well-being.
Additionally, Falkland Gardening Group Vice President Gregor Milne works closely with Falkland House School – inviting young people with autism, ADHD and needing extra support to use the facilities at Sugar Acre, enabling essential development social skills.
Doug added, “It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. To think of how we can use this land in so many different ways to benefit the environment, wildlife and people’s well-being is amazing.
Hamish Trench, Chief Executive of the Scottish Land Commission, said: “It’s great to feature the Falkland Gardening Group in the MyLand.Scot campaign as another example of how land can be used positively across the country. country.
“The Falkland Gardening Group has done such a good job for years and highlights how a gardening project can have such a list of benefits for all kinds of people within one community, showing how the earth can improve the lives of every day in more ways than most of us realize.
“The MyLand.Scot campaign hopes to raise awareness of the possibilities the land can have across the country. From housing to giving people the means and confidence to build businesses and communities, land can play an active role in everyday Scotland.