My name is Evie, and I am the Founder and Chair of Leith Community Crops in Pots (L-CCiP). I am a local parent and recently became an urban farmer when I started to grow my own food. I wanted to give my children a healthy outdoor experience, live more gently on the earth, and build a connection to nature, an element which I felt was missing from their play. I was looking for answers to the many environmental, social, economic and educational concerns that I had for my children, and I found that growing food and bringing a little bit of country to urban Leith fit the bill.I shared this vision and, as a guerrilla gardener, developed the growing of food and composting systems in various locations around Leith. I recruited people who shared my values and beliefs, and who had skills, knowledge, and expertise that could support the work. I developed the website, which explained the vision. I set up a social networking group on Facebook, which exploded with energy and creativity. Hundreds of people across Scotland were inspired. We formed our board of governance and compiled the charitable purposes that underpin the organisation. L-CCiP became a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation and now we have several integrated projects.
Today, we have a full-time voluntary manager – myself. We have a team of two part-time employees: Julie Brown a Community Education Officer, and our Administration (and Policy) Officer, Eric Swanepoel, whose positions are funded by Keep Scotland Beautiful’s Climate Challenge Fund.
Recently we have started to take on a fresh bunch of enthusiastic volunteers on a more formal basis, and hope to recruit perhaps seven or eight to help us in our various projects. We have roughly twenty ‘Carboneers’ parents who work very closely with us within our school projects on food-related carbon emissions etc. We run regular sessions in three Leith primary/nursery schools, and are developing lessons on food and the environment for our junior Carboneers, to fit in with the school curriculum. We are currently on a recruitment drive to expand our staff team which will enable us to work with a further three schools in the area. If you’d like to join our team and think you have skills to offer please do send us your CVs. Find out more @JoinOurTeam.
The ‘Croft Work’ sessions are exploding back into action this year and the energy around the project – our growing space on Leith Links, known as ‘Leith Community Croft’ – is, as ever, effervescent. We have decided to do things slightly differently in 2015 and thus have encouraged people to sign up to become members. We want them to be as involved as possible in building the Croft: for the people, by the people! This new membership programme has gone very well and we now have over 70 people, with more and more wishing to join each day. We will have approximately 55 plots of land available for families, groups and organisations to get together and grow food. Included will be four local organisations: Dr Bell’s Family Centre, Stanwell Nursery, the Citadel Youth Centre and the Himalayan Centre for Arts and Culture will all become Crofters! We see many ways to develop and build on these partnerships.
We are delighted to announce that Keep Scotland Beautiful have selected our project as a ‘best example’ in this area for tackling climate change, which means we shall be promoted as an excellent model for other groups. As L-CCiP’s Chair, I have been especially invited to a celebratory dinner with MSPs and other policymakers to celebrate our achievements. This news has given us a boost and encouraged us to continue with our increasingly needed work. We welcome any opportunity to promote and celebrate what we are achieving.
Finally, as we enjoy the continued successes of crops in pots we really must say a huge thank-you to those who support our work. Firstly, to the Crofting/Carboneering/volunteering community, you know who you are! Secondly to our invaluable supporters in various groups. It is due to their vision and foresight, with regard to the regeneration of Leith Links Park, that important aspects of our project have been able to flourish. So thank you to the Leith Links Regeneration Group for choosing the model we put forward for Leith Community Croft, thank you to our elected members who continue to support us, and to the Community Council who have given Leith Community Croft the opportunity to flourish.