As part of the opening of phase 1 of the 85 acre Auldcathie District Park, the Growers were joined by over 100 school children, who planted daffodil bulbs, to celebrate the occasion.
As well as the community garden, the phase 1 opening unlocks 20 acres of grassed playing areas, new walking and running routes and an enclosed dog park for locals and visitors to enjoy.
The handover comes just as the Winchburgh Community Growers discovered they had won the Silver Beautiful Scotland Award in the large village category as part of Keep Scotland Beautiful. The judges praised the array of planters, the work on Bennets Wood Terrace and community initiatives like adopt-a-tree, which saw Winchburgh residents save and nurture saplings during the pandemic and re-plant them in the Auldcathie community woodland.
John West, Co-Founder of the Winchburgh Community Growing Group said: "This marks a big moment for the growing community and Winchburgh Growing Group. The vision we had was to have a space in the park for the community to come together over the love of growing.
“Today marks the next chapter of a strong community initiative which along with the Winchburgh Wombles helps make our community even more special. Thanks to everyone involved behind the scenes with John and his team for making our vision a reality and don't forget to join our growing volunteers if you'd like to be involved."
Vivian Maeda, Co-Founder of the Winchburgh Community Growing Group said: "The official opening day of Auldcathie Park and the Community Growing Area. What a special day it was and so many people attended the event despite the weather. We started with a vision and half a dozen planters filled with edibles. Three-and-a-half years later we now have access to over one acre of land at the Auldcathie Park, where we will be able to have a polytunnel, education, cooking and breathing space and more planters. We cannot thank enough WDL, volunteers, local businesses and residents, local councillors and so many other people who supported and believed in us.
John Hamilton, CEO, Winchburgh Developments Limited said: “To achieve the silver Beautiful Scotland Award really shows the passion and commitment of the growers and is a tribute to the spirit in the village, something which makes the park stand out as a much more than just another regeneration project. We and WDL thank the growers and the Wombles wholeheartedly for helping make Winchburgh an attractive and community-inspired place to live.”
Once the next two phases of the Auldcathie park are open, the community will have access to 40 acres of the park, which already boasts over 15,000 new woodland trees and shrubs as well as more than two kilometres of paths and fitness trails. Other developments include a new outdoor play park, designed with the input of local school pupils.
The final park, to be completed in 2023, will be more than twice the size of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens. It will see a further 15,000 trees planted and include a variety of different open spaces including a dedicated bike park, additional paths and fitness trails, extensive wildlife areas and a community orchard. The viewing areas on higher ground will afford long-range views across Winchburgh and to the Forth bridges beyond. On completion, a café with public toilets will be located in the centre of the park.
Auldcathie District Park will be situated adjacent to the new schools’ campus area, which is located on the south-east boundary of the park site. With good connections between the park and schools’ campus, these ‘schools in the park’ will feature playing fields and synthetic sports pitches, providing a quality learning environment for future pupils.
Spanning 352 hectares, Winchburgh is one of the largest placemaking projects currently underway in the UK delivering at least 3,800 homes, improved transport links, employment opportunities, schools and outdoor spaces.
For more information on the Beautiful Scotland awards see www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/community-and-place/beautiful-scotland/awards-and-medals/