Green Routes is an organisation which has distinct goals. Since 2008 our main priority has been to build a positive learning environment where people with additional support needs can realise their potential and become equipped to make positive contributions to their communities.
At Green Routes we offer:
Green Routes is based in the walled garden at Gartmore House in the village of Gartmore, West Stirlingshire, Scotland. The training takes place in an organically managed community garden in safe, natural and friendly surroundings. Facilities include teaching beds, greenhouse and polytunnels, which also provide indoor horticultural teaching areas, workshop areas and built raised beds suitable for students in wheelchairs or those with limited mobility. Beekeeping is an expanding new development at Green Routes.
The primary focus of our training is horticultural and is tailored to individual needs. Students can study to SVQ1/2 in Horticulture and also for the Royal Caledonian Horticulture Society Achievement Award. Our range of activities also provide individuals with excellent employability skills including communications, time management, self-discipline, self-motivation, initiative, self-confidence and problem solving. Programmes for school groups focus on developing a range of practical, personal and interpersonal skills.
Green Routes can organise a variety of events based around full day or half days for community groups, schools, team building exercises and activities focused on personal and social development.
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.
Students learn about the value of sustainable and organic cultivation methods as a key part of their horticultural training.
Visitors can see for themselves at first hand the practices we use and adapt them for use in their own gardens.
We have helped deliver rural and environmental studies courses to students from neighbouring high schools.
We recycle surplus constructional timber provided for us by Ogilvie 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 will be insulated to a high standard to conserve
heat and to save on fuel bills.
In summer, we can 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.
The local community plays an important role in the work of Green Routes. Many of our regular volunteers live locally and monthly garden open days and similar events are well supported by the local community. 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. Some of our students have gained valuable work experience in local enterprises.