SCOTLAND’S “biggest urban farm” is celebrating its one year anniversary this month, and the slew of achievements that have come in that short space of time.

The 100-acre Lauriston Farm, in the north-west of Edinburgh, has seen more than 10,000 trees planted by some 500 volunteers, as well as opening allotments, and taking steps to improve biodiversity.

“Every aspect of the project has felt very welcomed,” Lisa Houston, one of the farm’s directors, told The Sunday National. “And everything happened in the last year.

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“We opened up the first phase of the community allotments, we did the tree planting, we also planted a 900-metre hedgerow along Silverknowes Road, we did a 19m x 15m wildflower strip, we dug seven ponds to create habitats for amphibians, we expanded a crucial area of wetland in the northern part of the farm, and then we’ve got another 20 acres fenced off for food production.”

Houston said the community’s engagement with the farm’s projects – evidenced by the hundreds of volunteers who helped out not just with the tree planting but also with the other aspects – had been “incredible”.

The National: Volunteer Bob Glen helping plant trees at Lauriston Farm, with the view over the Firth of Forth in the backgroundVolunteer Bob Glen helping plant trees at Lauriston Farm, with the view over the Firth of Forth in the background (Image: Lauriston Farm)

“If you’re on the farm, aside from the incredible view across the Firth of Forth, you can see on one side you’ve got the Muirhouse tower blocks, and you realise there’s an awful lot of people in the local area who have no access to any green space.

“In many ways it’s felt like we’ve opened the doors to something that people really wanted,” she said.

The first phase of the allotments has seen a dozen opened and offered to groups from the area. Edinburgh-based charities Project Esperanza, SHE Scotland, and Fresh Start have spaces, as well as groups of neighbours who organised themselves locally.

The National:

“They grow food and then that food is either distributed among the people who come and help or taken back to those organisations for community meals or community pantries,” Houston said.

“We’re trying to find as many ways as possible for people from all the local areas to come and engage with the farm, and as many ways as possible for the food we produce on the farm to go out to the local areas.

“We didn’t really know what to expect [offering allotments to groups] but it’s turned out to be a good way to increase the use of the land.”

For the next year, Houston says the farm will be looking to expand on everything it has done so far, including increasing food production, beginning to market veg boxes – which will be sold on a pay-what-you-can style system, and planting “thousands” more trees.

“We’ve also started planting a community orchard, which will be fully open to the public and once it’s got fruit that will be there for anybody to take,” Houston said.

She added: “The whole site is 100 acres. We believe it’s the biggest urban farm in Scotland, but we also believe it shouldn’t be.”