Laying down roots in the town centre

Friends of the Earth Falkirks Bean Row Garden has been a real environmentally friendly success story
Friends of the Earth Falkirks Bean Row Garden has been a real environmentally friendly success story

Friends of the Earth Falkirk held its annual Big Dig event at their Bean Row Community Garden earlier this month.

Bean Row is one of the group’s four community gardens in central Falkirk and together in 2015 they achieved the Outstanding Award from The Royal Horticultural Society It’s Your Neighbourhood for the third year in a row.

Seven years ago Friends of the Earth Falkirk were campaigning on waste and litter and decided, rather than just write letters and complain, they would do something about the issue by getting their hands dirty.

We identified a parcel of land next to the main road on Arnot Street, at the entrance of the old Polish Club. Originally we were going to guerrilla garden the land. This is were you create a garden and leave it for the community to enjoy and maintain on a temporary basis.

Our first idea was to plant a lavender hedge at the road side of the garden. This means that when we work in the garden we smell lavender rather than the exhaust fumes of the passing cars.

The group enjoyed the process so much that we decided to continue to weed and litter pick on a regular basis and seven years later we now have a mature garden which requires very little maintenance.

Our second garden, after exploring the litter hotspots within the town centre, was the raised beds next to the bus stops in Newmarket Street, just outside Asda’s front door.

This looked more like an ashtray than a garden.

After discussion with Asda the group turned this ashtray into a herb garden. Asda provided £50 for plants and the group bought herb plants from the Autistic Society plant nursery in Alloa – one charity supporting another charity.

Now when people come off their bus we hope we have created a different first impression of our town.

As the herbs are abundant year on year there has been little cost to maintain this garden. Only litter picking and weeding.

Just as the first gardens were as a result of the group’s environmental campaigning the third garden was as a result of our campaigns on Local Food and Food Sovereignty.

Our first two gardens were next to busy roads and not healthy places to grow food.

After another exploration of the town centre the group approached Russel and Aitken and asked permission to grow food in their “back garden” on Bean Row.

This was an ideal town centre location to grow and celebrate locally grown food.

Our fourth garden is in Kings Court, between the High Street and Bean Row. This land is also provided by Russel and Aitken and includes the use of a hut we use for the group’s potting shed.