Some weeks ago I mentioned that we received some funding through the Botanic Garden Conservation International (BGCI) and their Communities in Nature project.

Communities in Nature is an innovative project initiated and coordinated by BGCI and generously funded by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The idea for this project was inspired by a groundbreaking research report into the social role and relevance of UK botanic gardens conducted by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, University of Leicester. Last year BGCI supported three UK botanic gardens to develop their social roles through a programme of workshops and funded small-scale community engagement projects. In 2012 Communities in Nature will involve four gardens in a similar process but will also result in the publication of a how-to-manual, a practical step-by-step guide for botanic gardens on how to grow their role in and for society.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the four gardens and is taking part in this project with our Edible Gardening for All project. We have recruited two groups of young people from the local area to take part. The young people are in a demographic currently under represented by our visitors. The groups will be attending on a weekly basis over the growing season and will be tending their own vegetable plots in the garden.

The project started in earnest this week with our groups attending their first sessions. The young people involved got stuck into work on their plots and have dug them over, put up plant supports, planted potatoes and sown some seeds. In fact they were so involved they didn’t want to stop for a break. They’ve made great progress already and we are really looking forward to working with them over the next few months. As well as growing, the participants will have the opportunity to cook and of course eat the produce from their plots.

Follow the blog for updates on the progress of the project over the coming weeks but for more detailed information, and to see how the other gardens are getting on go to: