'It's been very fruitful': Community garden backed by Linda McCartney celebrates one year
A SOUTHSIDE community have celebrated one year of an "important" shared growing garden.
The garden at The Bowling Green in Pollokshields was opened last year following funding from Linda McCartney’s Grow Your Own campaign which was launched to celebrate 30 years of the company.
The initiative aims to make growing food accessible to people in inner-city locations and provide people with the skills and opportunity to grow their own.
Linda McCartney, the former wife of the Beatles' Paul McCartney, was a photographer and animal rights activist who started Linda McCartney Foods in 1991 in an effort to make going vegetarian accessible.
The garden is run by a partnership between Linda McCartney’s, The Bowling Green and Urban Roots, which is a community-led environmental charity working across the Southside, with the help of several volunteers.
Selina Boyack, officer manager at Urban Roots, says she is "grateful" for the funding that allowed them to open the garden.
She said: "It’s been a very important and fruitful partnership.
"We were in partnership with Pollokshields Trust from the very early days of when the community took over this site and we knew that this space needed a growing garden.
"It was completely empty, there was nothing here, just grass, but we didn’t have any money to build it and then just as we were talking about that, the Linda McCartney people got in touch with us and asked if we would like to be part of their initiative and it just was perfect timing.
"There was so much work to do because all the soil is contaminated, so you can’t just dig down and grow stuff, so we had to import all this compost and soil that’s extremely costly, all the raised beds had to be built, benches."
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She added: "Without the Linda McCartney initiative we wouldn’t have been able to do it and their understanding and support about the importance of these community spaces has been really essential and they’ve continued to support us."
Kit Cubitt started as a community gardener at The Bowling Green two months ago, and says so far he has been enjoying getting to know the volunteers.
He said: "A lot of volunteers come here for different reasons.
"Some people come for therapy, some people come for a break from the world, some people get to use the skills that they don’t necessarily get a chance to when they’re earning money out in the world.
"The garden is fundamental to people feeling good, people feeling relevant, people feeling useful and having some sort of reward at the end of it."
Highlighting the importance of learning to grow food, Kit continued: "This is a really important skill, it takes quite a lot of work but if you put in the work, you get the results.
"Food stability’s not amazing in supermarkets and big providers, we all need to have a basic understanding of how to grow plants and it is uncomplicated once you get started, a lot of it is common sense but it’s bringing people in and allowing them to explore that common sense.
"If everywhere had a little community hub like this, I think it would be so much more beneficial than even a sports centre.
"I think the more this sort of thing gets celebrated and pushed in the wider society, we’ll have a better time."
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The wide range of crops currently being grown in the garden include peas, berries, potatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and courgettes, with a lot of items at the request of the local community.
Tabassum Niamat, project manager at The Bowling Green, says they often hold events to serve the food that’s been grown.
She said: "We’ve got lots of potatoes so whenever we end up with a big harvest, we just make a community meal and then that’s open to everyone, everyone that walks in.
"The way we see it is it’s meant for you, this is why it’s here."
Tabassum also highlighted the accessibility of the garden, especially when compared to allotments.
She said: "The beauty of The Bowling Green is that it’s just so accessible not just to other community groups but the residents and individuals as well.
"It’s not just bridging the gap between communities it’s even organisations, we all come together and whenever there’s anything going on locally in Pollokshields or the Southside, we’re quite active around here in terms of our activism as well so it’s a good place to come together and unify as a community.
"When you think of community and you think of spaces, this to me embodies that whole thing, where everybody is welcome, everybody comes here, nobody’s left feeling isolated or that ‘this isn’t a place for us’, that doesn’t exist here."
The Bowling Green is located at 49 McCulloch Street and you can find out more HERE.