Spring planting is well underway. Three of our bee colonies are already active as longer and (slightly!) warmer days arrive. Our first Jacob lambs are expected in early April.
The first Garden Open Day of the year was well supported and a lot of really useful work was done preparing different plant beds for cultivation.
Work has continued to improve drainage and access between the upper and lower gardens. Insulation in the polytunnels has also been receiving attention and new shelving will be a big help in the workshop area.
Delivery of our new tractor is expected within the next two weeks, now that we have been able to identify an area where it can be securely garaged overnight.
The student committee held its first meeting of the new year at the end of March.
Student members described the different activities that they had taken part in over the last few weeks.
There were lots of suggestions on ways of keeping the different areas of the garden safe and tidy. There were plenty of ideas about what furniture and equipment should be bought for the new classroom.
It was noted that seven students are currently taking part in different work experience activities in the local community.
The committee talked about plans fto be carried out in the garden over the next few weeks. The huge grant of £10,000 from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme will allow major improvements in access within the lower garden. A grant of £1,500 from the Co-op will allow us to rent some pigs to clear an area of the lower garden for cultivation.
The list of important projects and improvements in the Garden continues:
- We are improving drainage near the access ramp between the upper and lower gardens.
- Old insulation in the main polytunnel is being replaced.
- Reorganisation of the workshop, including new shelving, is helping to improve safety and tidiness.
- Work has started on the construction of a sensory garden. More about this particular project to follow.
- Once storage arrangements have been finalised, we will be able to push on with the purchase of a new tractor. Where appropriate, the tractor will be used by students to help with some of the heavier garden-related tasks such as moving large quantities of compost or gravel.
- Using funds provided by the Robertson Trust, we have started manufacturing wooden signs for garden use and local sale. Students enjoy making the signs which provide a really good learning exercise in spelling, measuring and using different tools
Tesco has teamed up with Greenspace Scotland to launch its Bags of Help initiative across Scotland. The scheme will see three community groups and projects awarded grants of £12,000, £10,000 and £8,000 - all raised from the five pence bag charge.
Bags of help offers community groups and projects in each of Tesco's regions across the UK a share of revenue generated from the five pence charge levied on single-use carrier bags.
Green Routes has been selected as one of the three organisations to benefit from this initiative.
The money we receive will all be used to improve access within the lower Walled Garden at Gartmore House. The idea for this project arose as the result of consultation about access issues with students, schools, the local authority, volunteers and members of the local community.
Our plans will allow access for the first time to this part of the garden for students who use wheelchairs and walking aids such as rollators. It will also improve access for other students, particularly those with poor mobility, by the construction of a pathway linking a poly-tunnel, raised vegetable beds, fruit bushes and poultry runs. The costs of the project are mainly for materials. The actual work of preparing the ground and laying the path will be undertaken by students, staff and volunteers.
If we are awarded the top grant of £12,000, we will also be able to extend the pathway to include the orchard, fruiting hedge, compost heaps, wildlife garden, bog garden and bee-keeping area.
Over one hundred users of the garden will benefit from the completion of this project. It really is a worthwhile venture and will build on a number of other improvements recently completed at Green Routes.
We have already undertaken a similar project to improve access in the upper garden and this has been a huge success.
You will be able to vote in local Tesco stores from 27th February 2016 until 6th March 2016 on who should receive the £12,000, £10,00 and £8,000 awards. Here at Green Routes we're all really hoping you'll go out and give us your vote!
Participating Tesco stores are Callander Express, Bridge of Allan High Street Express, Dunblane and Stirling.
Green Routes is a social enterprise and charity established in 2007 to provide high quality training and work experience in horticulture to young adults with learning disabilities. The training takes place in an organically managed working garden which offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities. Our aim is to build a positive learning environment where people with additional support needs realise their potential and become equipped to make positive contributions to their communities. We are based in the Walled Garden at Gartmore House in the village of Gartmore, West Stirlingshire.
These are sessional posts to assist in delivering horticultural training to students with Additional Support Needs. The successful applicant will be required to step in at short notice to cover for holidays, sickness and other absences. Hours will vary depending on the needs of the project.
- Deliver appropriate hands-on horticultural training to young adults with Additional Support Needs, in accordance with agreed lesson plans.
- Comply with Health and Safety requirements and ensure that all training delivered takes place in a safe environment and that the students have the appropriate tools and equipment to carry out their training.
- Carry out risk assessments for each activity within the lesson.
- Contribute as appropriate to individual student assessments and reviews.
- Previous experience of working with students with a wide range of Additional Support Needs.
- Ability to engage with and teach students with more complex needs.
- Ability to work successfully and flexibly alongside a wide range of other staff and volunteers.
- Knowledge of health and safety requirements.
- Positive "can do" attitude.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Ability to work creatively in motivating students.
- Self motivated, highly organised and have a flexible approach.
The successful applicant will be required to undergo a PVG.
The payment rate for sessional horticulture tutors is £14.00 per hour.
New this year and available just in time for Christmas is the Green Routes recipe book entitled A Walk through the Garden.
All of the 18 recipes contained in the book have been kindly supplied by friends of Green Routes. Virtually all of these tried, tested and tasty recipes contain ingredients grown or found in and around the Garden.
As you can see in the photo opposite, many of the recipes contain handy hints for cultivating their key ingredients.
This year's Annual General Meeting (AGM) will be held in Gartmore House on Friday 18th December 2015 at 10.30am. The meeting is open to everyone including students, their parents, carers and supporters, members of the local community and their representatives, who is interested in hearing about the work of Green Routes and its students over the last year.
This information will be shared through the annual reports of the Chair of the Green Routes Board (Pete Williams), Project Development Manager (Gillian Forster) and Treasurer (Bernard Love). Student Jordan Milne will bring us up to date on some new developments at Green Routes.
The meeting will also include the election of Board Members and Office Bearers for 2016.
The AGM will begin at 10.30am with coffee available from 10.00am. The meeting will finish in plenty of time for the Green Routes Pre Christmas Lunch at 12.30am!
Our Christmas Lunch takes place this year in Gartmore House on Friday 18th December 2015 at 12.30am.
You can see details of the special freshly prepared menu below.
The cost of the meal is £10.00 for two courses and £12.50 for three courses.
All payments can be made directly to Margaret or to Green Routes at the Walled Garden, Gartmore House, Gartmore FK8 3RS. If paying by cheque, please make the cheque payable to "Green Routes".
Christmas Lunch Menu
Roast Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup with Croutons ;
Chicken Liver Pate, Melba Toast and Cumberland Sauce;
Melon Balls with Winter Fruits of the Forest
Traditional Roast Turkey, Pigs in Blankets, Stuffing and Cranberry and Port Gravy;
Fillet of Salmon with Sweet Chilli and Ginger Butter Sauce;
Mushroom, Brie and Hazelnut and Cranberry Wellington
All of the above dishes are accompanied with a Carrot Swede Mash,
Brussels Sprouts and a Roast Potatoes
Christmas pudding with brandy sauce;
Chocolate Yule log;
British Cheeses with Celery and Crackers
Copies of the Green Routes calendar for 2016 are now available.
The calendar shows views taken in and around the Walled Garden at Gartmore House and each photo shows how the changing seasons affect the garden and the landscape around Gartmore.
The photo opposite shows a sample month from the 2016 calendar.
The calendar is attractively priced at £8.00 and will make an ideal Christmas gift.
Copies can be purchased directly from the Walled Garden or by contacting Gillian Forster at greenroutes.org.uk or at 01877 389082.
All money raised from the sale of the calendar will be used to help support the service that the Green Routes project continues to provide for its students.
Copies of this year's Green Routes Christmas card are now available.
Help support the work that Green Routes does by sending our cards to your family, friends and associates.
The front of the card features a winter scene from Gartmore. The inside of the card contains the message "Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a joyous New Year"
As well as helping to celebrate Christmas and New Year, sending a Green Routes card to friends, family, business contacts and associates is another good way of raising awareness in the wider community of the work that we do.
All money raised from the sale of cards will be used for the benefit of our students.
Since the last edition of Garden News, only internal painting and the laying of non-slip flooring needs to be completed before our new office building is ready for use.
The next phase of work on improving wheelchair access has begun. This will take an improved path surface as far as the steps to the Lower Garden. A ramp will then be constructed over the existing steps.
We have purchased a replacement gearbox for our existing tractor. Refurbishing the tractor has proved to be a valuable learning exercise for some of our students.
A Jacob ram has been loaned to us from Wester Deans Farm and is now with our three ewes. This year's three lambs have been sold and will go to their new home just after Christmas.
The well-established Garden Committee has now been renamed as the Green Routes Student Consultative Committee. Its membership comprises students, staff and garden volunteers. The committee's new title more accurately describes the work of the group and the important role that students have in contributing to the development of the Garden.
At the most recent meeting in October, student members recommended, among other things:
• New fire safety signs that should be displayed
• Suitable signs for the new office
• Ways to make sure that the views of other students were made known at meetings
The meeting also discussed:
• How various garden activities had gone this year, including progress with important new projects such as the teaching garden
• Plans for activities in the immediate future including preparation for various Christmas events
The views and recommendations of the committee were welcomed and accepted by the Trustees of the Project at the November meeting of the Green Routes Board of Management.
The next meeting of the Student Consultative Committee will be in January 2016.
Planting and harvesting
• Vegetable beds have been cleared for the winter.
• Plants in the perennial border bed have been lifted and the ground carpeted to help remove ground elder and bind weed. Replanting will begin next spring.
• Bees are now being fed for the winter. This has been the most successful year so far for our hives.
• Our growing sheep flock is prospering!
Preparations are continuing for our contribution to various local Christmas fayres and galas.
Just in time for winter, our new office block is approaching completion (see photograph). This has turned out to be a much bigger project than we originally imagined. On the positive side, students have had the opportunity to develop a lot of new skills when assisting, as appropriate, with the construction.
The first phase of improving wheelchair access to the Garden has been completed. Once again, this improvement has been made easier by assistance from Ogilvies and discounted prices from other suppliers. Further plans will improve access between the upper and lower gardens through the construction of a ramp to replace the existing steps.
June has been a busy month for Green Routes and its students.
Students and school groups were very successful again this year at the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Show (RCHS) Pallet Garden Competition held at Ingliston in Edinburgh. Our pallets won three gold medals and four silver gilts. Planters won one gold and four silvers.
Four students took part in a demonstation at the Garden Show, at the RCHS stand, where they planted up "potty" planters.
Seven students have been awarded their RCHS Grow and Learn Awards and six of the students attended the Garden Party Awards Ceremony at the Norton House Hotel in Edinburgh. Two students were presented to Princess Anne and were able to talk about their portfolios. Green Routes featured in the promotional video used at the event which described the benefits for students of the Grow and Learn Award. After the Awards Ceremony, students took the chance to visit the Highland Show.
Back at the Garden, our new mini-flock of sheep and lambs are settling in well. Students are enjoying the experience of helping to look after and feed the sheep. If the flock continues to prosper, this will extend the range of learning opportunities available to students in animal husbandry. Fencing of the their new field behind Gartmore House is nearly complete.
Work on our Ogilvies building continues. The green roof of the building, which is made up of sedum plants, is growing well. Windows and doors for the building have now been delivered and are ready for installation.
We have taken delivery of a small tractor and it has already been used (with great enthusiasm!) by most of our students. It is very safe to operate and has already proved very useful in moving heavy materials such as compost and hard core around the Garden.
Students and volunteers are now fitting wooden cladding to the outside of the building as well as starting work on internal insulation. Electrical wiring is taking shape. Guidance, especially on joinery work, from our supporters at Ogilvies has been a great help to students and volunteers alike. While we wait for windows and doors to arrive, fitting the waterproof membrane for the green roof will begin in April.
A container for a rubbish bin has been completed for the 'Keep Drymen Beautiful Society' and we have had enquiries from several local gardeners and from Aberfoyle Primary School about raised beds and bird boxes. We are now in the healthy position of having a waiting list for orders.
As you can see, the basic structure is now complete. At present, doors and windows are being manufactured ready for installation. Students will be able to get more involved now by treating and staining the exterior wooden cladding which will be fixed to the exterior of the building. We have agreed with Ogilvies that we will be responsible for funding and installing the "green roof" which will eventually complete the building.
The wheelchair access planting tables that we have made for Wallace High School are now complete. We're now going to produce similar tables to replace the existing raised beds in our woodworking polytunnel. By doing this and by building two new accessible beds in the lower garden, we will increase the growing space available to our students with low mobility.
The wood burning stove that we've been testing has allowed us to make good use of lower quality wood that otherwise would have gone to waste. However, we've discovered that the heat output from the stove is less than we need so we will now purchase a stove with a higher output.
We are working on improving the drainage for the new garden area next to the yurt. We've purchased a large amount of hardcore, drainage pipes and terram and the plan is to finish the ground works by the end of March.
Preparation and planting
Although the weather hasn't always been too kind recently, preparations for spring are well underway. Vegetable and perennial beds have been dug. Our compost heaps have been turned. So far, sweet peas, tomatoes and broad beans have been planted and we will work towards sowing finer seeds as the season progresses.
The Garden Committee includes students, staff and garden volunteers. The committee meets regularly and its work focuses on two main aspects:
• reviewing what has been going on in the garden since the last meeting;
• planning the work and activities due to take place in the garden in the immediate future.
Most importantly though, the meetings give students a chance to present their views and to be involved in decisions concerning the garden.
At the last meeting, discussions included reviewing ways that Green Routes was involved in a variety of projects in the local area and in working out planting programmes for flowers, vegetables and fruit for next spring. One student representative mentioned the importance of health and safety matters such as first aid training and fire signs.
After Garden Committee meetings, there are arrangements to make sure that the views of the committee are reported back to the Trustees of the Project at the next meeting of the Green Routes Board of Management.
New Office Building
There's been further progress on the construction of our new office building. Thanks to the involvement of Ogilvie Construction, the first building blocks have now been laid. Once the block work has been finished, an Ogilvie's joiner will work with our students to erect the rest of the building. At the moment, we think the construction work should take about four weeks.
We are getting ready for spring by producing wheel barrow kits, nest boxes, etc and we also intend to make small crates as plant holders. Wallace High School have asked Green Routes to make some planting tables designed for use by students who use wheelchairs. This is making good progress and should be completed later this month.
Repairs have been carried out on the yurt and it should now be possible to keep the yurt up all year round, instead of having to take it down each winter. We have borrowed a wood burning stove which is specifically designed for use in yurts and are trying it out just now.
WIth the help of staff from the Conservation Volunteers (TCV), we have created a path in the lower garden leading to the hen compound. This will also greatly improve access to the lower vegetable beds. The work of taking 20 tonnes of hardcore down to the garden from the Gartmore House carpark was completed despite everything the recent winter weather could throw at our students and volunteers!
As October moves into November, the focus of work has gradually shifted from growing and harvesting to preparing the garden for winter.
A few winter salads and potatoes have been planted, but most of our vegetable beds have now been cleared and will be resting until next spring.
As the autumn leaves have continued to fall, our students have been 'blown away' by the chance to use a leaf blower like the own shown in the photograph. Compared with smaller hand-held blowers, this machine makes fast work of clearing even crushed wet leaves from roads and paths. However, the noise from the petrol engine meant that students using the blower have had to wear ear defenders as part of their personal health and safety routine.
In recent weeks, Ogilvies have continued to provide us with a steady supply of wooden pallets. Currently we are recycling these to make storage and strawberry crates.
At this time of year, woodworking becomes an even more important activity for students as the opportunities for outdoor work in the garden decrease. For various woodworking products, we now make up pre-prepared kits. These are easier for less experienced students and students with more complex needs to assemble and finish. The construction of more complicated items such as coffee tables and benches will be the next step up for students who will be able to work on their project either individually or in small groups.
Hopefully, Christmas gifts and decorations made by students will be available for sale at the forthcoming Gartmore, Drymen and Aberfoyle Christmas Fayres.
Exciting new developments are continuing to take shape in the garden.
For over a year, our yurt has given us an important space that is used as a teaching area, a social area at break times and as a quiet area when it is needed.
The yurt has recently moved from its previous temporary position to a new decking platform. The platform has been built with the help of students and with the support of the local community who have provided time, experise and materials to ensure the success of the project.
The yurt is now being made more accessible from the entrance to the garden with the construction of a new walkway made possible by the donation of materials from the University of the Third Age group who visited us last year.
The area around the yurt is currently being levelled to provide new horticultural training areas for our students including a lawn, rose bushes, hedging, flower beds, gravel garden and quiet area (see photo).
In the walled garden itself, an existing path has been improved and two new raised strawberry beds have been constructed.
A new disability access portaloo has been installed and the old portaloo replaced with a newer model.
Recently a group called Froglife have held workshops which have led to the establishment of a bog garden near to our bee hives. In time this will provide a home for frogs, toads, newts and dragonflies. A 'hibernaculum' will offer a snug and secure resting place in the winter for bog garden inhabitants. Some of our 'bug hotels' (see photo) have been moved into the wildlife area of the garden to provide safe accommodation for some of our resident insect life.
Three years ago, our first bee hive was established next to the Walled Garden. Since then, with the help and advice of local beekeepers, the number of hives has grown to three. Staff and students have learned about caring for bees by taking part in courses run by the Dunblane and Stirling Beekeepers Association.
This year has marked a milestone in the growth of our bee colonies, with honey being harvested for the first time from one of the hives. The photo below shows some of the actual honeycomb that was collected. It was very tasty, with that distinctive Gartmore honey flavour!
Bees aim to make and store enough honey each summer to feed the colony during the winter. Beekeepers only harvest honey from their hives when the bees have more than enough honey to see them through the long cold winter months.
In fact, in recent years, our bees have produced so little honey in summer that we have had to feed them a concentrated sugar food over the winter months.
This year however, there has been enough surplus honey to allow us to take a small amount from one of the hives. What has made the difference this time?
Sam Ridley, our expert student beekeeper, thinks that the sunny and dry summer weather has been the answer. More sun has meant more flowers and more flowers have meant more nectar - the raw material of honey - for the bees to collect.
With any luck, the extra honey in the hives this year means healthy bee colonies next spring and our hives blossoming even more next year!
One of the different ways in which we try to help our students prepare for the world of work is through supported work experience in local shops, businesses and enterprises.
Currently Jordan Milne, a former pupil at Wallace High School, is enjoying his second six week spell of work experience in the kitchens at Gartmore House.
Jordan works in Gartmore House for part of one morning each week. As you can see from the photographs, he receives expert help in mastering techniques of food handling and preparation such as washing, peeling and chopping fruit and vegetables. He has already helped prepare the eggs and bacon before a breakfast for over 100 guests!
Jordan has also been learning useful lessons about food hygiene and health and safety. The communication and teamwork skills he has been developing will be of great value to him whether or not he eventually seeks employment in the catering industry.
We've had a very busy and productive summer! In June, our pallet and planter entries went on show at the annual Garden Show in Ingliston and we came away with gold, silver-gilt, silver and bronze awards. Also, our student judge at the Show was made very welcome and his contribution was appreciated.
Next, we had fun entering the Potty Planter competition at Benview Nursery, winning first prize with our stuffed shirt, and second prize with a World Cup ball planter. It was an interesting project for our students and one we hope will come round again.
Saturday 23rd August was the Kippen Show and this gave another chance for students to harvest and exhibit our best beans, cucumbers, beetroots and carrots. The carrots won the overall prize for the best exhibit in the organic section! We were delighted with our four 1sts, four 2nds and three 3rds.
We also had success at the following week's Gartmore Show. We submitted our largest ever number of entries and at the end of the day came away with fourteen 1sts as well as winning the cup for the most points in the vegetable section.
A great delight over the summer has been the sight of nine baby ducklings, all growing feathers, feeding well and enjoying our pond. Our bees also seem to be doing well and the lovely summer weather has given us a good show of flowers for them.
Now that the schools are back, we are welcoming fifteen pupils, some from past years and others who are new, to join our regular group of students. We are really pleased that every high school in Stirling Council has shown an interest in Green Routes for some of their pupils with additional support needs and most days at the garden are really busy as a result!
As part of the preparation we offer our students for the world of work, one student is currently participating in a six week "taster course" (!), assisting in the kitchens at Gartmore House. Here he is learning about basic food preparation techniques as well as other important lessons about food hygiene and personal health and safety.
With help and materials from the local community, we have been able to relocate our yurt on a newly decked area in the garden. The yurt is an important resource for us as we use it as a social and teaching area and as a quiet space for students when needed. The construction of the decking has been a really big project and it has taken many volunteer hours to complete, including the drilling and screwing in of almost 2,000 screws! Our students then finished off the decking by applying waterproof stain to ensure it will become a lasting asset for the garden.
Our students' needs are being met by our tutors and the band of volunteers whose support is especially valued. Do think about joining us if you have some time to spare.
May was a particularly busy month as we prepared the Green Routes entries for the pallet and planter competitions at the Scottish Garden Show at Ingliston. As always, students came up with highly inventive ideas. They were then encouraged to choose suitable plants and to make wooden resources to enhance their chosen theme.
After two days of intensive preparation at the show, we awaited the results eagerly! And we were not disappointed. The pallet gardens gained one gold, two silver-gilt and one silver award. The planters achieved one gold, two silvers and a bronze.
Already, one of our most enthusiastic students has planted his planter for next year and we have learned useful tips from another student. His request to be a judge was granted this year and he had the great pleasure of being involved in the discussion of awards to all but his own exhibits.
The lovely planter above earned a well-deserved gold award. The little house was made at a woodwork session and all the garden plants and washing line added with great care. Our student was thrilled to have won Gold!
Pupils from Wallace High School wanted to make a planter celebrating the World Cup. A football was filled with flowers of matching colours and the ball mounted on a box with national flags. This won a bronze award.
Two students decided to take the Commonwealth Games as their theme and so their wire basket had a central grass pitch with pipe-cleaner runners, surrounded by an audience of flower faces, with a podium showing plants to represent gold, silver and bronze. A silver award was well-merited here.
One of our younger students is very keen on woodwork and is full of ideas. These were put to very good use with his wooden train, tunnel blackboard and theme of the Homecoming. One side of the railway track was planted to represent the desert and the other, the wealth of Scottish plants awaiting the homecomer. This planter won a well-derserved silver-gilt award.
Here the theme is Japan, with white flowers indicating snow on a steep-sided mountain. A wooden pagoda is edged with stones and a lily pond is surrounded with acer trees. This garden was awarded silver.
This extraordinary pallet reflects a play on words. Busy Lizzie, made from flower polts, has been 'sacked' for being 'tired'. Visitors were asked to spot the word pairs; eg, 'leek' and 'leak', 'tyred' and 'tired', a broom brush and a broom plant, etc. Lots of little clues were hidden as plants and we were pleased this pallet won a silver-gilt award.
Students from St Moden's High School chose the Battle of Bannockburn as their theme. Stirling was represented with a castle on a heather-clad rock, the English army emerged from a cottage garden of flowers and the two armies faced each other across a blue viola River Forth. This super pallet won a gold award.
It was an extremely busy time at Green Routes getting all of these exhibits planned and prepared, but the learning and creativity shown by our students made the whole process worthwhile.