Green Routes is a charity offering teaching of employability skills and confidence building support for people with learning needs, in a positive learning environment. Our training is focused on horticulture, and is tailored to individual needs, allowing students to work towards the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Achievement Award.
Our range of activities also develops self confidence and employability skills, such as communication, time management, self discipline, problem solving.
Students learn about the value of sustainable and organic cultivation methods as a key part of their horticultural training. We have helped deliver rural and environmental studies courses to students from neighbouring high schools.
The local community plays an important role in the work of Green Routes. There are frequent opportunities for younger children to visit and take part in activities at the garden. Much of our garden produce is sold through local shops, businesses and events and some of our students have gained valuable work experience in local enterprises.
Green Routes is based in the walled garden of Gartmore House in rural Stirlingshire, according to organic principles, in a safe, natural and friendly community.
Facilities include outdoor beds, indoor teaching greenhouses and workshop area, as well as raised beds suitable for students in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
A strong environmental theme runs through our work at Green Routes. You can experience this both in the ways in which we are developing the walled garden and in the horticultural training that we offer to our students. For example:
Our restoration of this historical site includes the reclamation of flower, vegetable and herb beds, the replanting of orchards and fruit trees and the establishment of bee colonies. While restoring and developing the garden, we have also conserved the key elements of its design and construction.
We use sustainable horticultural practices such as a four-year rotation of vegetable crops. This includes the planting of legumes, typically peas and beans, to help fix valuable nitrogen in the soil.
We also employ organic methods of cultivation. This means avoiding the use of artificial fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. Instead we use natural fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides to maintain soil fertility and to kill diseases and pests. This includes introducing biological controls such as ladybirds to help deal with greenfly.
Our garden waste is recycled to make compost. Garden waste that is not suitable for compost making is sorted into different categories for collection and, where possible, for recycling.
Tree bark, which is a by-product of the biomass heating plant at nearby Gartmore House, is used as a mulch in some plant beds to help retain soil moisture and to suppress weeds. We recycle surplus constructional timber used in our own woodworking programmes.
Our sophisticated rainwater harvesting system collects the rainwater that runs off our polytunnels and this helps meet our plant watering requirements. New buildings are insulated to a high standard to conserve heat and save on fuel bills.
In summer, we erect our yurt using eco-friendly methods and natural materials to provide an attractive social area and teaching space. We are alert to new technologies and practices that might help improve further our environmental credentials.