Grow Greener with Garthdee Field Allotments Association

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Sandy Inkster

Thanks go to Val (Plot 23) for suggesting this post and providing the text and photos.

On a beautiful day in late June, the family of the late Sandy Inkster gathered at Garthdee Community Allotment site to see the bench that has been placed there to commemorate his very long-standing association with the site. Sandy is very missed by those at Garthdee allotments who benefitted from his vast knowledge about plants and his insights and experience gained from a lifetime of growing in Scotland and abroad which he was happy to share with us all. We all knew where to go if we had a problem or a puzzle about what we were growing. Sandy always had the answer and was always encouraging about our efforts.

Photo Credit: Heather McLennan Plot 36A

Sandy’s family: Jo his wife, his three daughters and sons in law, his grandchildren and great grandchildren, wish to thank the many people who contributed to this tribute to a much loved and respected gardener.

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?

Spaces for People Aberdeen

Michael Melton from Sustrans Scotland has been in touch to tell us about the Places for Everyone programme. Here is what he had to say:

As you may be aware, many local authorities throughout Scotland are installing temporary measures in their towns and cities. These measures are to protect public health by enabling physical distancing when people walk, cycle and wheel for essential journeys and exercise, whilst avoiding unnecessary car journeys, during Covid-19.

Aberdeen City Council have been awarded funding from the Spaces for People programme, funded by Transport Scotland and administered by Sustrans Scotland.

A website has been set up with an interactive map where people can comment on a location they would like to see a temporary measure installed to ensure physical distancing is possible for the people of Aberdeen. You can also agree with others comments.

To ensure we engage with a wide variety of people in Aberdeen we are asking you to share the link to the website with your community on your social media pages or other communication channels.

The more people involved, the better the needs of the whole community will be reflected.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thanks in advance for your help promoting this programme and engaging your community in making their neighbourhood safer for physical distancing during Covid- 19.

Michael is, Infrastructure Coordinator | Places for Everyone | Sustrans Scotland and this is the email address used to contact us.

More COVID-19 Advice

Pat Wilson has issued this information: Plotters and volunteers should read it carefully. For convenience of volunteers, some points relating to squad activities onsite have been highlighted in red.

Dear Allotment Holder

As lockdown restriction are eased, the Scottish Government have now published further guidance on the safe use of allotments and community food-growing spaces.

It is important that all guidance is followed when visiting and working in allotments in order reduce the risk associated with Coronavirus.

The main guidance points are as follows:-

People who should not visit a community food-growing site
Anyone who should self-isolate, for example because they or a member of their household have COVID-19 symptoms, or they have been advised that they have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, should follow the NHS Inform guidance and must stay at home for the period of their self-isolation and not attend a community food-growing site. Follow the guidance on self-isolation on NHS Inform.
The NHS will also now be asking people to self-isolate who do not have symptoms, but have been in close contact with someone who has been confirmed by testing to have the virus. This is part of Test and Protect – Scotland’s approach to implementing the ‘test, trace, isolate, support’ strategy. Read more about Test and Protect.
People who have been personally advised to shield by letter should follow the shielding guidance, which includes guidance on outdoor activity. This includes maintaining strict physical distancing; choosing times and areas that are quiet, if possible; washing hands for at least 20 seconds as soon returning home.
People at higher risk from Coronavirus (including people aged over 70, people who are pregnant and people with an underlying medical condition) should strictly follow physical distancing guidance.

Onsite attendance and safety at community food-growing sites
The measures contained in this guidance should, where practicable, be communicated to volunteers and users of community food-growing spaces in advance of their attendance. Local authorities and others with responsibility for community food-growing sites should ensure the following points are adhered to onsite.

Tool sharing
The sharing of tools, gloves etc is strongly discouraged due to the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Users and volunteers at sites should be encouraged to bring their own gloves. Any onsite tools should be disinfected after each use.
Communal activities/events
Indoor communal activities are not permitted at this time. Outdoor communal activities such as outdoor cooking, training activities or open days are not permitted at this time if they involve people from more than three households, and additionally they should not involve more than 8 people in total. There should be no sharing of food or utensils onsite.
Physical distancing
Compliance with physical distancing of 2 metres including, if necessary, limiting the number of people within the site at any one time and/or considering a one-way system within the site (together with any necessary signage).
Hand hygiene
People attending a community food-growing site should be reminded of the importance of handwashing before leaving home to travel to the site, and handwashing as soon as they return home. Encourage compliance with hand hygiene guidance onsite, e.g. providing hand sanitiser or suitable hand wash facilities.
Cleaning and sanitising
Regular cleaning and sanitising of any communal or frequently used areas e.g. taps and gates. The risk of transmission of COVID-19 at communal areas such as taps and gates should be highlighted via adequate signage.
Travel to site
Remind users and volunteers of the community food-growing site that they should currently not travel further than approximately 5 miles to the site for leisure or exercise purposes. However those with a specific health condition that requires travel beyond their local area to maintain health, and those with a disability who need to travel a bit further to appropriate outdoor space, can do so.
People should be encouraged to travel to the site via active travel methods such as walking or cycling, or in their own car and only with members of their own household. People should be advised to think carefully whether they need to use public transport for travel to the site.
The use of face coverings in polytunnels and greenhouses should be encouraged where physical distancing is challenging. Air vents should be opened to maximise air flow. People must not congregate in a polytunnel, greenhouse or other onsite indoor space.

The full allotments guidance can be viewed using this link.

As per the guidance, over the next few days, signage will be placed in allotment sites to reinforce the messages with regard to the 2 metre physical distancing, hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, COVID-19 transmission and cleaning/sanitising of communal areas.

Missing Keys

A set of keys were found on site at Garthdee Field and handed in today.


Thanks to everyone who helped – the keys are now relocated in their rightful kingdom.

Dandelions, bonnie, but …

Dandelion, sporting a COVID-19 head of hair.

Pretty and invasive I guess we could agree. Of course the bees love them, they are native, but perhaps we can have too many of them? What do you think?

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