Scotland-wide ‘grow your own food’ project reveals plans for edible gardens and vertical farms in unusual places

A canal network, a car park, a former ferry terminal and a library will become home to edible gardens, vertical farms and harvest-themed festivals as part of the biggest Scottish project in a UK-wide culture celebration this year.

Town centre alleys, grassy knolls, tidal sites and a farm will also be part of Dandelion, which will bring together food producers, scientists and technologists with artists and performers across the country.

Locations as far afield as North Uist, Moray, Greenock and Stranraer will be part of the project, which will run between April and September, and will culminate in the staging of hundreds of one-off festivals across Scotland.

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The Dandelion project will see two barges tour the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal this year as part of a huge 'grow your own food' initiative.

The Scottish Government-backed project, which is expected to have a budget of at least £7 million, is the centrepiece of Scotland’s programme for Britain’s £120m “Unboxed” festival that will be launched in Paisley next month.

The organisers of Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival are among those involved in Dandelion, which will see musicians-in-residence work with producers in sites selected to become home to “Unxpected Gardens”.

Unused land and unusual locations will be hosting events, artistic installations and places to grow herbs and vegetables for the local community to share.

Billed as Scotland’s biggest ever community-led “grow your own food” initiative, Dandelion will feature two barges which will tour the Forth and Clyde Canal, and the Union Canal over the summer. One will feature a miniature allotment and a garden shed, while the other will feature the vertical farm cubes which will be distributed all over Scotland and fitted with speakers to broadcast specially-commissioned music as part of the Dandelion programme.

The Dandelion project will run between April and September. Picture: Alan McAteer

Locations expected to be transformed include Forres town centre, where Findhorn Bay Arts will lead a project to grow mushrooms in its multiple alleys, sites overlooking Loch Long and the Gare Loch, in Argyll, where the Cove Park arts centre will explore the links between coastal communities and agriculture, and the garden of the Taigh Chearsabhagh arts centre in North Uist.

Others include a site overlooking Stanraer’s former ferry terminal, a farm in Edinburgh that is planned to be turned into a large-scale urban food production hub, a proposed market garden in the car park of Leven Community Centre in Fife, and scrubland next to a library in Greenock.

Large-scale music festivals will be staged in June and September, in Glasgow and Inverness respectively, as part of Dandelion’s programme.

Neil Butler, Dandelion’s festival and events director, said: “We’re excited to announce the locations of our Unexpected Gardens and look forward to watching each of the gardens come to life as they grow.

A floating garden will pass through Bishopbriggs, Kirkintilloch, Auchinstarry, Bonnybridge, Polmont, Linlithgow, Broxburn; Ratho and Edinburgh before docking at the Helix park in Falkirk.

"Sustainability lies at the heart of our programme and we can’t wait to see people from all over Scotland sowing, growing, and sharing food, music and ideas.”

Martin Green, chief creative officer of the Unboxed festival, said: “As a project, Dandelion is literally about sowing seeds for the future, which we hope will inspire local communities and the next generation.”

Marie Christie, head of development at VisitScotland said: “We’re thrilled that gardens across Scotland will be enjoyed by local people and visitors as part of the Dandelion programme throughout this year.”

New food growing initiatives are expected to be created across Scotland as part of the Dandelion project.

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