Sun, sweat and seaweed at the Children’s Orchard

Volunteers and the Leith Links Children's Orchard

Recently Greener Leith held another workday at the Children’s Orchard.

It had been looking slightly less than perfect for the last couple of months due to a misunderstanding with the council about the mowing regime, which happily is now resolved. Furthermore, persons unknown had planted some supposedly native plants, which, although colourful, were definitely not from these shores. Should they survive the winter, we’ll ponder whether they should stay or go next spring..

People may also have been surprised to see two large heaps of seaweed dumped at the entrance. This was not a random act of vandalism but a gift from Mara Seaweed, a local company that collects and sells dried seaweed for culinary purposes. Seaweed is an excellent soil conditioner and has been used since time immemorial to improve cropping.

The task was to to get the orchard prepared for winter. The circles around the trees needed weeding and the seaweed distributed.

With the help of volunteers from local company Toshiba Medical Visualization Systems and local church St James the Lesser we did 68 out of the 100 trees. It was hard and at times smelly work – decomposing seaweed really stinks! – but it was a lovely afternoon and everyone got to know each other, a wonderful side effect of going volunteering.

At the end of the month the Children’s Orchard will also see the start of Forest School sessions which will take place every Monday afternoon for the next 6 weeks. With the help of a grant from Awards for All, children from St Mary’s and Leith Primary will have the opportunity to do outdoor learning with specialist teachers. Expect more on this project soon.

Many thanks to all our volunteers. There are still 32 trees to be done, so we will advertise another date for a work day soon. If you are interested in joining our list of volunteers, please get in touch to let us know.

Volunteer's at the Leith Links Children's Orchard

Council forgets point of allotments with huge fee hike plan

Allotment fee hike

Allotment holders throughout the city are to be hit with a massive fee hike of averaging £105 per year per plot holder, if the current council budget proposals for the next financial year are approved.

According to the Federation of Edinburgh and District Allotments and Gardens Association (FEDAGA) the council currently receives around £80,355 from the city’s 1429 plot holders.

But buried on page 81 of the council’s budget proposals for the next finsncial year is a proposal to more than double the amount charged in fees. Officials want to raise an additional £150,000 from allotment holders.

This would lead to Edinburgh allotment holders paying at least £205 for a full plot, and most likely much more, if one assumes that people on low incomes are protected in some way from paying the full cost of the proposed increases. A standard fee of £300 per year for a full plot – a tripling of the fees – looks like a real possibility.

Even before the proposed rises the city has some of the most expensive allotments in the UK, but these proposed rises are likely to put Edinburgh fees at the most expensive anywhere.

FEDAGA, who estimate that the average cost of a plot in England is £60 per year, point out that most other local authorities subsidise their allotments because they provide recognised social benefits. But allotments in Edinburgh are not currently subsidised – and so the latest proposed fee hike is about generating a profit from allotment holders to offset budget pressures elsewhere.

This attempt to make a profit from allotment holders is painfully ironic as allotments were originally conceived of as a way to help people grow their own food during hard times.

Indeed, FEDAGA also claim that the proposals could be subject to legal challenge.

If you think the proposed fee hike is unwarranted, then you can write to your local councillor to tell them, and sign this petition. You can find out more about the FEDAGA campaign against the fee hike on the FEDAGA website.

Cala submit detailed plans for Brunswick Road brownfield site

Brunswick Road image

Following a series of early consultation meetings, Cala have submitted detailed proposals for the former Royal Mail sorting office site on Brunswick Road.

The firm seeks formal planning permission to build 175 new residential homes. 132 will be for private sale, whilst 43 units will be affordable homes. All the affordable homes are located in the taller, westernmost block closest to Leith Walk. This block is also to accommodate 192sqm of commercial space on the ground floor, although the developers say that these will be converted to residential use if a commercial tenant cannot be found.

Brunswick Road plan

Overall a quarter of the homes will be three bedroom flats, although none of the affordable homes will have three bedrooms, apparently at the request of local housing associations.

Should you wish to submit a comment on the scheme for the consideration of the planning committee, you can find all the documents associated with the planning application on the council planning portal.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Brunswick Road

Greener Leith 2014 AGM

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Greener Leith would like to invite all our supporters to our 2014 Annual General Meeting.

The meeting is taking place on Tuesday October 14, 2014 at the Shore Room, in Leith Community Centre at 7.30pm.

Everyone is welcome, but if you want to be able to vote in the elections to the board, then you’ll need to join up. It costs just £5 per year and you can do it online here.

Attending the meeting is a great way to find out more about Greener Leith and meet the people who manage it.

A copy of the agenda for the AGM can be found here.

Retailers urged to donate carrier bag charges to charity

Plastic Bag

On October 20, 2014, retailers all over Scotland will be required to charge their customers 5p for each single use carrier bag they give out.

The charge is being bought in to try to tackle the litter and waste problems single use bags cause. Similar charges that have already been introduced in Wales and Northern Ireland have successfully encouraged people to cut their plastic bag use.

Zero Waste Scotland is urging retailers of all sizes to sign up to its carrier Bag Commitment and donate the proceeds from single-use bag sales to charity.

Fashion chain and Superdry announced it would donate all proceeds from bag sales to Trees for Life, and The Co-operative Group has also pledged to donate sales from its range of re-usable bags to local projects.

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland said: “It’s just a week weeks to go until the Carrier Bag Charge comes into force in Scotland, Zero Waste Scotland is reminding retailers and shoppers alike to be prepared.

“Single-use carrier bags are a highly visible sign of Scotland’s litter problem, and the charge is an important measure in tackling the number of them in circulation. These bags, after just one use, often end up cluttering up our streets and seas.

“Shoppers can avoid the charge and help reduce the number of bags in circulation by remembering to bring their re-usable bags when they pop to the shops after 20th October.

“Retailers can visit our dedicated website for a host of useful tools and materials, to ensure they are fully prepared when the charge goes live on 20th October.”

More information about the charge is available at: http://carrierbagchargescotland.org.uk/

Needless to say, Greener Leith would be keen to work with any local retailers interested in using the money they raise from the carrier bag charge to support local environmental projects, such as the Leith Links Children’s Orchard. If this sounds interesting, please do get in touch.

Image credt: Kris | CC | https://flic.kr/p/2Ewkc