Sunday, 19 September 2010

Cuthill Park Community Garden, Prestonpans, East Lothian

While other folk were having a lie-in or heading off for the start of a long weekend, on Saturday morning, the Friends of Cuthill Park were taking delivery of a 20 yard skip (if you didn't already know, these things are huge).

We had set aside two days to blitz the overgrown area where the Community Garden (a.k.a. Cuthill Vittles) will be sited.  It became clear quite quickly that this was a bigger job than any of us envisaged.  Fortunately lots (over a dozen households) of people came along to muck in .

After hacking down the shoulder-height nettles, we discovered all sorts of weird and wonderful objects including a fire extinguisher, a games piece from Connect 4 and Pure Garage Rewind Back to the Old Skool CD.

Any initial fears about ordering too large a skip proved unfounded as we soon began to fill it with weeds and debris.

We also discovered this little fella....a shrew who must have been a bit bewildered at seeing several children all peering at him.

There were shrieks of "Can I hold him?" and "Look at the funny-looking mouse!" (n.b. shrews aren't rodents) from the kids.

As shrews have a high metabolism and need to eat every few hours (some of these little mammals will perish if they go without food for as little as two hours), we retreated from the vicinity to let him find a hidey hole.

After four hours of tilth and filth it was apparent that we needed a second day so we returned on Sunday to begin the painstaking job of removing the nettle roots and levelling out the mounds of earth.

The area in front of the burnt trees is a horrendous mess of masonry, metal, Tyvek-like material and broken glass - all of which seem to be fused together after the many arson attacks.  Clearing this section is going to be a long term project.

We've still a lot of work to do but we are almost at the stage where we can put in some raised beds and get sowing some vegetable seeds!

Next step is for East Lothian Council to remove the fire-damaged trees; and for the Friends of Cuthill Park to thin out the foliage along the wire fence ready for planting the edible hedgerow in November.  We also need to buy a water butt, build a compost bin and about a zillion other things.  Why not join us?  We're on the 26 bus route, we're a friendly bunch and you could be part of a fantastic community project.

A HUGE thank you everyone who came along over the two days. 

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Before and After

Today I visited the Porty Community Growing Space behind the Town Hall.

The change since I last visited the site is incredible.

The strip of land is now packed with raised beds and pop-up greenhouses bursting with produce (and happy gardeners). 

MAY 2009
It's hard to believe that the site was an almost inpenetrable jungle just over a year ago.

The site began as a guerrilla gardening project without Edinburgh City Councl's knowledge or agreement.  I suspect the whole project would have come to a standstill had it not been for Lucy-Ann's tenacity when dealing with the local authority- who initially were not exactly overjoyed by our presence.  Today the site is leased from the Council and is a fully-fledged community project. 

Guerrilla Gardening was a great kickstart at Porty but now with a committed group of individuals and community activists, the project looks set to be sustainable in the long term.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

A Guerrilla Gardening Poem

Garryas of New York
Their invention is in not trying to impress you,
with no intention of trying to convert you.
They do it for themselves; for satisfaction but yes, perhaps,
for reaction
to see things so,
to see seed sowed
in rundown, worn down, unimaginable, unmanageable areas
that need tending, defending, from the ravages of time,
savages of neglect, to erect a basis, an oasis
of calm, with no harm meant from
these expert extroverts -
these are the people who reform and transform -
these are the Guerrilla Gardeners. Harbingers
against politically correct institutions. With quiet resolutions,
taken from the ancient ?Diggers?, invigorators of traffic islands
in low and highlands; of empty plots, vacant lots and virgin verges.
Driving round a roundabout to see who?s around and about -
with verve and nerve and not a little aplomb, a seedbomb
is mackled if it can?t be tackled
and though not thrown at random, is still abandoned
to its fate,
to gestate and
to await an explosion at a later date with
a saturation of seeds, a suffocation of salvias,
a bombardment of begonias.
Have a brush with a buddleia, a butterfly bush
or populate with poppies but, if all else fails,
it won?t be poplar; nor as popular, and to do or die: plant leylandii!

David Allinson July 2010


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Pimms and Permaculture in Prestonpans

Take 3 guerrilla gardeners, some compost and mix together with Pimms until slightly squiffy, and you've got yourself a recipe for, well a bit of a laugh really.

Jan, Lucy Ann & Thea got together to create some seedbombs for future bombing missions.

How to make a seedbomb: 
Mix 1 part seeds (we used native non-invasive wildflower mix and added some sunflower seeds), 3 parts compost, 5 parts dry red clay (befriend a potter), 2 parts water.  Form into marble-sized pieces.  Dry in the sun for 24 hours (don't leave out overnight to get rained on like Jan did).  Lob!

How to make a Pimms Summer cup: 

Mix 3 parts lemonade, 1 part Pimms Number 1, add slices of cucumber, apple, orange, lemon and mint.  Pour.  Drink!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Velveteen Screen's 'Guerilla Gardeners'

The first two minutes of Velveteen Screen's 10 minute documentary as part of Pilton Video's Streetwise 2010 project can be seen here.  You might recognise a few faces.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Caught on Camera (and it's not CCTV)

Pilton Video presents 6 short films and documentaries- if you want to come along, buy your own ticket ( and meet in the bar.

WHAT: Streetwise 2010
WHEN: Saturday 28th March, 1 - 3 p.m.
WHERE: Filmhouse Cinema, Edinburgh

Duration: 120 minutes
Certificate: Rated 12A

Primary Park
Written & directed by Leo Bruges 

When Brian, a nine year mixed race boy, is bullied out of his local playpark, he looks to his hero Barack Obama to find the courage to face the bullies. But will he succeed?

When II Worlds Collide
Written & directed by Garry Fraser

A gritty slice of life portraying the experiences of Jai, a teenage boy from a shattered family, as he crosses the class divide into his girlfriend’s world. 

Written by Fraser Edmond, directed by Catriona Ruth Paterson 

Ben's dream girl arrives for his birthday. Rob, useless in love, wants one too. Leaving town for a few days, Ben presents Rob with an opportunity not to be missed – with tragic consequences.

Street Pastors
Directed & produced by Genevieve Bicknell & Magda Dragan

Late evening on the drunken streets of Edinburgh, the Street Pastors go out to ‘help, care and listen’. As the night progresses and the stories unfold, we wonder who really needs who? 

A Tramline Runs Through It
Directed by Jon Pullman, produced by Lorna Sinclair

It was supposed to be an iconic transport system for Scotland’s capital, but as project costs have escalated and the route downsized, only a single line remains – forging its determined way from airport to ocean.

Guerrilla Gardeners
Directed and produced by The Velveteen Screen Collective.

Across the city a growing army of disaffected gardeners are reclaiming land left to ruin. But just who are these green fingered rebels?
 (Oh, I don't know, who on earth could they be???)

Monday, 4 January 2010

Guerrilla Gardening - better than sex?!

According to an article in EcoSalon, the best things in life are free. We knew that already didn't we. But did you know Guerrilla Gardening tops the list of free fun?

Read the full article here.
Check out these ideas and step outside of the expensive, prepackaged entertainment box.

twig5 Guerrilla Gardening


Try your hand at guerrilla gardening. You know that boring patch of grass on the corner? I’m sure no one would mind if you sneaked in some sunflowers or a bunch of marigolds. Guerrilla gardening is an underground urban movement to take back the little green spaces most people ignore. Beautify your neighborhood, on the sly.

twig5The Outdoors

Hiking, biking or walking in a local natural area or park. Yes, this is obvious, but sometimes we forget how free and easy some of the best pleasures are!


Keep your eyes peeled for free concert and theater-in-the-park series starting in late spring and summer.

twig5Urban Foraging

Take up urban foraging. Who doesn’t like free food? Learn about wild, regional edible plants or befriend a neighbor with an overloaded fruit tree going to waste. Augment your diet with fresh, free foods!


Have a partner? Have sex. Nature’s foremost free fun activity – get creative with it! (Getting busy is certainly one of our favorite healthy recommendations.)


Take your honey or some friends on a good, old-fashioned picnic.

twig5Trade Entertainment

Scour your books, CD’s and DVD’s for those items you just no longer need and trade them in for credit at a local used CD or bookstore. Spend the afternoon browsing for new reads and new tunes you’d never find otherwise. If there’s no used media store in your area, try a website like SwapTree or Title Trader.


Spend a night stargazing. Find star maps online or in the library, then scout out the darkest part of town and learn the constellations. Watch as they change through the seasons. Bring a romantic partner for extra motivation.


Explore the vast world of podcasts. I myself am a podcast addict, loving to enrich my mind with interviews and alternative news. You can find storytelling and comedy podcasts too if you prefer something a little lighter, or podcasts featuring music you’d never hear on the radio.

twig5 Volunteer

Try volunteering. I know, I know, this is not what people usually think of for fun, but my husband has shown me otherwise. He regularly volunteers for behind-the-scenes help at music festivals and expo’s, which means he meets lots of great people and attends the event for free. I’ve done it with him and I have to admit, it’s more fun than simply buying a ticket and being part of the audience.

twig5Craigslist (and more)

Check out your local Craig’s List free section or Freecycle. This is a fun way to pick up free things you need, and maybe some fun items you can redecorate or make art with. Surprising things have been known to turn up…I’ve seen soap-making kits, antique roll-top desks and even a hot tub! It’s definitely worth a spin.

twig5Clothing Swap

Call your friends and organize a clothing swap party. Tell them to bring all the clothing, shoes and accessories that no longer suit them (or fit them) and spend an evening hanging out and shopping for free.

twig5Garage Sale

Have a yard sale. You know you have lots of stuff you could do well to pass along, and make a little extra cash while you’re at it. If the weather is still too cold where you live, start putting things aside now and you’ll be ready for yard sale season.

twig5 The Library

Make use of the public library. This has been one of my favorite free things since I was a kid. I mean, c’mon, books, movies, music – all for free!?! Depending on how extensive your local library system is, you will have an amazing amount of resources at your fingertips. Your taxes already paid for it, might as well take advantage.


Host a potluck. Humans are social animals, and we all love to eat. Food is a great icebreaker.

twig5Get Creative

Pull out a sketchbook and draw. If you’ve got colored pencils or watercolors, play around with those, too. Looking at something deeply enough to draw it can be a powerful exercise in perception – and recognizing beauty in surprising places.

twig5Nature Knowledge

Get a regional plant identification guide (from the library, of course) and make a point of learning the names of the trees and plants in your area. It’s even more satisfying if you bring a sketchbook along and create your own personal botanical book.

twig5Send a Note

Make homemade greeting cards for upcoming holidays and birthdays. You can use fabric scraps, magazine cut-outs and odd bits of beautiful paper. People love to receive snail mail.

twig5Get Fit


Develop a workout routine that you can do without equipment (or minimal things you might already have, like a jump rope or dumbbells) and then do it! It’s most fun if you find a sweet spot outside, with the fresh air and shade under a tree. Need workout ideas? Here’s a place to start.


Start keeping a journal. If you don’t like to write, don’t be dismayed. One of my favorite journalers simply does one small watercolor painting per day, and that’s all she needs to record the progress of her life. If you’re a crafty DIYer, you can easily make a journal yourself with simply things you have around the house.