We learned this week that Mhairi from the RGU Student Plot and Community Garden Project will be leaving soon to take up a new post. While we are delighted Mhairi is moving on in her career, we will all be very sorry to see her go. The energy she brought to the plot and project was exceptional and her contributions to our general meetings were always well-considered and helpful. We will miss her enthusiasm, bright ideas and wide knowledge of community involvement and funding opportunities.I am sure we will all want to wish her happy landings in her new post and every success in her new roles and responsibilities. Hopefully she will manage to pop back from time to time to see how the RGU projects are getting on.
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Jim Henderson, our It’s Your Neighbourhood Assessor has passed on his assessor report. It makes very good reading. Jim visited our site in early August and was clearly impressed with many of our activities: he awarded us a second to top-level grading and considered us to be ‘thriving’.
It is clear that all our allotment holders have contributed to this success for GFAA as Jim remarked on the big number of well looked after plots he saw as well as the well maintained communal areas of our site.
Here are some highlights from the report:
We scored 32/40 points for community participation with special mention made of help for novice plotters; our community orchard; support for TAMS; the RGU connection; social and communal activities to maintain the site; and our occasional training courses.
We scored 25/30 points on evidence of environmental responsibility, getting a special mention for our promotion of composting; waste management; encouragement of educational projects from primary to university level; use of natural materials and approaches to deal with problem areas; encouragement of wildlife with bird feeders and insect boxes around the site.
Gardening achievement scored 25/30 with praise given for the variety of fruit, veg and flowers grown across the site; the sharing of advice and plants; development of wild flower areas; and the use of small plots to help new plotters.
Jim indicated he looks forward to seeing more of the exciting new project with Broomhill Primary School and the raised bed plots planned for development with RGU in the Community access area. His score of 82/100 leaves us within striking distance of the ‘outstanding’ level on our very first attempt, so we have a clear target for the coming season.
A big thank you to all who contributed to this success on their own plots and on communal areas and to our principal partners, including the City Council and RGU. It is very pleasing to see our combined efforts recognised within the IYN scheme and we hope this success will encourage even wider participation and more new projects in the coming year.
Plotters will remember a few months back being asked to help an RGU student, Brittany Forbes, with her Honour’s Degree Project in which she tried to quantify the health and well-being benefits of working an allotment. Brittany has been kind enough to send a summary of her final report and it brings good news.
A comparison of fruit and vegetable consumption and wellbeing in allotment holders and non-allotment holders
While there is some research to show that allotment gardening has a beneficial effect on general health and wellbeing, there is currently little quantitative evidence in the UK to support this. The aim of this research was to assess fruit and vegetable consumption and general wellbeing in allotment participants and non-participants. A paper based questionnaire was sent to 468 Aberdeen City Council allotment holders with a second copy of the questionnaire for a matched control (a friend or colleague of the same sex, age and postcode, who does not grow their own produce either on an allotment or in a garden). A total of 104 questionnaires were completed and returned (11% response rate), with 45 pairs of questionnaires from allotment holders and a suitable matched control . Allotment holders (n=45) reported consuming more fruit and vegetables habitually, a median of 7 portions from a 24 hour recall, compared to the 45 matched non-allotment holders who reported a median of 6 (p = 0.01). In addition there was a statistically significant higher proportion of allotment holders consuming the recommended 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day compared to non-allotment holders (p = 0.03). Allotment holders reported higher satisfaction levels regarding time spent outdoors, exercise and diet as a whole compared to non-allotment holders. However there was no significant difference with satisfaction of other aspects of wellbeing, such as weight and life as a whole. Overall, the present research highlights the potential contribution of allotment gardens to a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally.
I am pleased to report that Brittany’s interesting study helped her gain a First Class Honours Degree. Thanks to all GFAA members who acted as a focus group as part of her research design activity or completed and returned her questionnaire.
Our relationship with The Robert Gordon University and its Student Association continues to flourish. The Student Plot took a major step forward in the last week or so with the delivery of 100 tons of topsoil to raise its level and help with water-logging.
This weekend some of the student team were hard at work creating beds in preparation for sowing and planting. We all know just how much work is involved in taking over a new plot and wish them well for the future. They are off to a flying start.
Further information on the RGU students’ sustainable community garden project is available on the RGU website.