The farmland, which spans almost 35 hectares, was the first community buy-out on the Isle of Arran. Listed below are some of the projects currently being developed.
Currently, the majority of food consumed on Arran is brought in by ferry. Being cut off from the mainland means it is less easy to buy organic, locally grown produce. We would like to prepare parts of the land to support crops of our own that could be sold on the island for regular consumption. To date we have created 12 community allotments and a community garden area with polytunnels and orchards. We are creating larger crop areas for future use, firstly by suppressing the grass and then spreading a manure and seaweed to fertilize the soil. When the soil is ready and deer protection is in place, we will choose suitable food crops to grow such as potatoes.
Older students benefit from the use of the land for further studies in land based skills courses such as horticulture and agriculture as well as other areas of the school curriculum such as cooking skills. Our ethos is learning about the journey from seed to plate and ways of minimising our carbon footprint.
New walking trails are in the making with some popular dog walking loops already in place. Plans are afoot to develop a path up and across to link to the Glenashdale Falls walking route. The Arran High School Mountain bike club enjoy using the site for weekend camp base en route from Lamlash on Forestry tracks. The site is also popular with DofE groups who are great at ‘leaving no trace’ after camping.
Saving the Arran Whitebeam
The Arran Whitebeam is one of the most endangered trees in the world and is found only on the Isle of Arran. The tree is very difficult to grow from seed, and needs to germinate in particular conditions. Local tree expert, Henry Murdo, encourages growth with using a polytunnel misting machine that prolongs the summer season for germinating seeds and has supplied the project with saplings. To date, 15 Arran Whitebeam trees have been planted in deer-proof enclosures and are growing well. There are plans to plant and protect more.
This is a place for island community groups to care for plants and crops resulting in a sense of pride and ownership. The achievement and enjoyment of eating flavoursome home-grown food is the ultimate reward for the effort and hard work put into the community garden by volunteer groups. There are now 12 community allotments (all currently in use) and an apiary to help with pollination.
The gardens are open to the public so everyone can come and admire the array of fruit and veg. being grown. There are regular volunteer days and everyone is welcome to lend a hand with planting trees and growing fruit and veg. crops. There are many other ways to help too so if you are interested, get in touch with the trustees (see trustee page for contact details).