Allotment hopefuls to spruce up Slateford station

Demand for allotments is high in Edinburgh. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Demand for allotments is high in Edinburgh. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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IT’S the drab transport hub more used to grumpy commuters than green-fingered gardeners.

But now Slateford station is set to bloom thanks to an initiative timetabled by rail chiefs.

Gavin Corbett at Slateford station. Picture: Jane Barlow

Gavin Corbett at Slateford station. Picture: Jane Barlow

They are offering the 2746 hopefuls stuck on the growing waiting list for a city allotment the chance to grab their own little green oasis – by volunteering to spruce up a station.

John Yellowlees, ScotRail’s external relations manager who oversees the company’s Adopt-a-Station scheme, urged green fingered types to choo-choo choose them and help Slateford sparkle.

“This scheme offers those city residents who are waiting on the allotment list the chance to get gardening and plant flowers or vegetables, whatever they want,” he said.

Over 150 ScotRail stations have so far been adopted by groups or individuals to make their local station a more welcoming place. In Edinburgh and the Lothians stations already adopted by gardeners include Newcraighall, Dalmeny, Kirknewton and West Calder.

And it’s a thrifty way of exercising any aspirations to be the next presenter of The Beechgrove Garden. Planters are provided by ScotRail as are flowers, bushes, herbs and vegetables. All expenses and costs are also reimbursed by the rail company.

Mr Yellowlees added: “It’s in our interests to have our stations looking their best as we are financially penalised if any are to fail an inspection for being untidy.”

Green councillor Gavin Corbett said the “great initiative” will help reduce the city’s allotment list while giving Slateford a much-needed floral makeover.

He said: “Every week I get a new suggestion for a growing project in the area. It seems that there really is an appetite in the area for growing food, others simply want to tend plants that lighten the spirit.

“I can see real benefits in a project at Slateford meeting that demand, but also enhancing the experience of passengers waiting for the train.”

The Capital’s allotment shortage has been a mounting concern in recent years as more people sign up to the waiting list for plots.

And the situation was made worse after allotment sites at Carricknowe and Pansy Walk in the west of the city were acquired by the council to create space for a tram line and dedicated bus route.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, the city’s environment convener, said that while a new allotment is planned, the Slateford option is to be welcomed.

“We’d like to see more of these fantastic initiatives to make private land available. The council will help to facilitate any private landowner who wants to make their land available for community allotments and can support by advertising the plots to those on our waiting list.”

She said they are “committed to introducing one new allotment site in Edinburgh each year”. She added: “Our recently approved budget allocated extra funds to open another new site at Baronscourt this summer.”

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