Grow Greener with Garthdee Field Allotments Association

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Bonfire 2021 Success

I want to offer my thanks to all the plotters and volunteers who found time to come along and help with our recent bonfire. It was great to see so many turn out on the day.

Getting going at 9.30: but don’t look behind you!

At the outset the pile looked very daunting, but with help turning out across the day we were able to finish by 16.00. A fantastic effort from our community.

Thanks go to everyone who came to help with the fire, organise the cake and coffee station and especially to our bakers for the very tasty bites that kept us going all day.

Please note that no more waste material should be left around the site now until bonfire waste is again accepted in November. Please take your own waste home for disposal or better still, organise to compost it on your own plot. Remember, the Council does not allow bonfires on allotment sites from the end of March to the end of September.

CFINE Community Growing

We were delighted to meet up with CFINE Community Growing Development Worker, Rebecca Dunn, who visited our allotment site recently.

CFINE has set up a scheme to prepare and distribute food growing packs to North-East residents. Unfortunately the premises Rebecca was using to prepare the packs are no longer available.

She is looking for somewhere to temporarily store the compost material and prepare the food growing packs which will be distributed in early Spring.

Given the various facilities on our site I think Garthdee Field Allotments Association is well placed to be able to help her and we look forward to doing just that in the very near future.

Community Climate Asset Fund Award for GFAA

The Community Climate Asset Fund (CCAF) is a funded programme from Scottish Government run by Keep Scotland Beautiful. CCAF aims to:

  • Build on the invaluable role that community based organisations are playing in Scotland’s response to COVID-19
  • Support community groups to play a prominent role in the Green Recovery
  • Provide capital funding to community based organisations to help them tackle climate change as we accelerate our just transition to a net zero society
  • Complement funding provided through the Climate Challenge Fund and other community and place based initiatives
  • Help communities to reduce usage of petrol and diesel cars, cut waste, grow local food and reduce emissions from community buildings.

Following an application made in November, GFAA is pleased to announce the award of just over £3000 for the purchase of capital assets for our allotment. Our bid centred on making our operations greener by:

  • the retention of rainwater to reduce the amount of tap water used
  • increased use of a wider range of compostable materials produced on plots
  • reducing the amount of plot waste burned on site
  • increasing the contribution our community makes to producing more locally grown food.

The award has enabled us to purchase a small wood chipping machine which we will use to chip prunings from around the site and so reduce the amount of material being burnt and hence the amount of carbon produced.

We have also purchased 1000 litre rainwater storage tanks which we will use to reduce the consumption on site of town water supplies.

If you are interested in getting involved with any of these activities please get in touch with myself or any member of the Committee.

Increasing composting and reducing the amount of green materials burned were recommendations made in our recent Green Flag Award evaluation, and it is very pleasing to be able to make a start on this agenda thanks to the CCAF funding.

Awards Time

In the year of our first Green Flag Award, we are also pleased to have these.

Thanks to all those plotters, volunteers and friends whose contributions and efforts make these successes possible. We literally could not do it without you.

Losses from Plots

We have suffered from a wee spate of thefts from plots over this season – rather more than for many years. Items taken include: tools, bird feeders, a bicycle, compost bins, hoops and coverings, hoses, produce, etc.

So, a word to the wise, please be aware the problem seems to be ongoing and therefore it is worth taking a bit more care. Also, if you do lose something, please:

  • let a member of the committee know so we can monitor the scale of the problem
  • inform the Police in the case of a break-in and theft
  • as I say, take additional measures to take care of what you can.

If you have practical ideas that would enhance our site security we would be delighted to have them.

Green Flag Success


With great pleasure I am able to report that GFAA has been successful in its application for Green Flag status. Our on-site assessment was completed by an external evaluator in late September and the Assessment Report arrived with us last week.

It has been quite a journey. We applied in early January (a 70 plus page application and Management Plan was required) and our Assessment Visit was scheduled for May. The various COVID-19 Lockdowns put paid to that possibility, of course and it was only in recent weeks that the visit was possible. COVID also robbed us of the support of the Momentum Skills team who were due work on site bi-weekly, but in the end were not able to come at all. As a consequence all of the work fell back on our Volunteer Squad, individual plotters and Community Sunday attendees. A huge thank you goes to all who sought out ways to help with our site developments and maintenance over the summer. Our success was built on your hard work.

We joined the Green Flag scheme because we hoped it would challenge us to improve the management and running of our site – making it a better green space for our plotters, volunteers and visitors. Our external Evaluation Report suggests we have been successful in this, but that work remains to be done. Here are some highlights from the report:


Our Plan and Site: The 10-year Management Plan follows the Green Flag criteria assessment framework in structure the content. It sets out the current status, recommendations and includes appendices which summarise the 10-year management and maintenance schedule as well as ACC Health & Safety policy.

There is reasonable vehicular access into the park, but limited options to improve due to the mature tree lined street. Safe parking and little movement of vehicles through the site. Pedestrian access using the same access. Meeting place close to the entrance with seating. The site is sign posted on nearby roads. Site is sheltered and has fencing around most of the site with replacements planned. Good surfacing and access throughout.

Health, safety and Security: First aid provision located at 2 bases within the allotment sites. Risk assessment undertaken twice a year and prior to events. ACC Arboriculture services manage trees. H&S in line with ACC. Sheltered and enclosed site with low incidence of vandalism. Busy well used site and friendly atmosphere gives a sense of community and with that a safe and secure place.

Litter, Cleanliness, Vandalism: The Management Plan indicates that litter is separated for recycling. Measured response to reporting/ tackling graffiti and vandalism. Well used site limited vandalism. No litter. Fences around the site slowly being replaced and to the same specifications. Facilities are being improved and were clean and well maintained. Volunteers actively collecting branches and material.

Environmental Management: The Management Plan mentions not using horticultural peat and minimising/justifying use of pesticides, collecting rainwater from buildings and encouraging use locally grown plants. Autumn leaf collections are stored and turned into leaf mould on site for mulch/compost. Composting encouraged on site. No use of herbicide was noted during the visit. Use of peat is limited.

Biodiversity, Landscape and Heritage: Management Plan recognises the historical background to the allotment site. Allotments have been established here since 1956 and has a long history of food and flower growing, It is a place defined by landscape features of the old farming estate with large mature trees and a wealth of biodiversity and habitat. Beehives have been allowed on site. GFAA are actively engaged in seeking advice for improving diversity.

Community Involvement: Management Plan outlines role of GFAA in the day to day management of the site as well as their extensive network of collaboration with schools, University and other community projects and their achievements in national/local awards. The allotments are well run and have managed to diversify the site adding additional areas for growing for sections of the community and raising money. The City Council appear to be assisting where required but the site can manage and function with little assistance. There is a good working relationship between GFAA and the council.

Marketing and Communication: GFAA has excellent website and social media presence and is actively engaged in promotional activities/national awards.

Partnership working with the Council’s communications team to target different audiences. GFAA have an excellent web page and social media presence. Good advert for Aberdeen and it’s horticultural background.

Overall Management: At present the site is managed and maintained by volunteers who constitute the GFAA Committee, the Volunteer Squad and allotment holders through Community Sunday activities to provide a well maintained, clean, safe and welcoming environment for visitors and allotment holders. The partnership between GFAA and the City Council appears to be working well. The City are supportive while letting GFAA manage and run the site with real positive changes over the last number of years. GFAA encourage all plot holders to take part, very community orientated.

Additional Comments and Opportunities for Development

There is a need to clarify what are the different responsibilities of ACC and GFAA in the maintenance management schedule.

GFFA/ACC should have regular meetings and schedule an annual review.

Continue to pursue the funding for the rear fencing and hedgerow planting.

Some of the recommendations in the Management Plan are not replicated in the maintenance management schedule for monitoring and review.

There should be a comprehensive list of actions.

No budget is identified for any activity.

No proposed public events are planned to engage with the wider community e.g. open days.

An annual bonfire is useful. It may be worth exploring other green ways of reusing green waste on site before being burnt.

Next Steps

There will be an opportunity for plotters and volunteers to discuss the report and its recommendations during our up-coming General Meeting (November 14 11.00 via Zoom). The Committee look forward to ideas and suggestions for further developments on site. If you have ideas, but cannot attend the meeting, please do pass them to a member of the Committee.

I want to end on a thank you to all who helped make this exercise a success. The application took place against the most difficult of backgrounds. So many people helped in so many ways, small and large, it is not possible to name them all. It was so encouraging to have so many plotters step up to the plate and help. I would like to mention especially however, Alan Findlay, Pat Wilson and Stephen Bly from Aberdeen City Council for their help, support and encouragement throughout the process. A special mention too, must go to our Volunteer Squad: without your efforts over the months leading up to our assessment visit we would never have reached the required standard.

So, what’s next for Garthdee Field Allotments?

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