New community allotment helping boost locals' mental health

Budding gardeners are learning new skills, making friends and helping cut food costs at the new horticultural space.

A new community allotment has sprung open to cut food costs and teach people new skills in Fife.

The plots at St Monans in the East Neuk have all been snapped up by budding gardeners – and it’s hoped it will help boost locals’ mental health.

The space, at the newly built Railway Terrace, St Monans, was given to the community as part of an S75 agreement and has been created in memory of Michael and Anne Thomson of Newark Farm, who were also keen amateur gardeners.

Morna Kirk doesn’t have a garden at home, so tending to her very own patch is a dream come true.

She is one of the first to take up a plot at the new allotment in St Monans.

“You meet people you would never come into contact with any other way,” said Morna.

“It’s just such a friendly place and you pick up so many hints as well.

“There are novice gardeners like ourselves and there are experienced people. Everyone is doing things differently.”

Horticultural experts from social enterprise group Sow ‘N Grow are on hand to offer hints and tips for gardeners to help their plants flourish.

Volunteer Grace Devine said: “Some people are already very experienced and won’t need so much help. But there are other people who have never gardened before and the very basics like how to use a spade, a rake and a fork – somebody needs to tell them.

“It used to be your grandparents or your parents told you, but nowadays those skills have been lost so it’s really about giving the skills back to people.”

The site was constructed in a partnership between Lochay Homes and Fife Council.

School pupils have been learning about gardening at the allotment

Councillor Linda Erskine, spokesperson for Communities and Leisure Services said: “I’m really delighted to be able to open this new food growing space here today.

“These allotments have been a long time in the planning.

“Thanks to the hard work of our staff, and the support of Lochay Homes, the Thomson family and the local community, this amazing community space can now go on to flourish.

“Fife Council’s Allotments and Community Growing Strategy 2024-2029) aims to help more people who want to grow their own fruit, vegetables, flowers and herbs to access land in ways that are safe and sustainable and with the requisite skills and knowledge.” 

The site, which has been created with £50,000 funding from Fife Council, has 39 plots, including starter plots, a community growing space, a polytunnel, a meeting space, storage facilities and a Portaloo.

The hub will be run by St Monans Allotment Association with support from Fife Council.  

Chair John Kirk said: “We really appreciate the time and effort spent in creating this excellent resource for the local community.

“Great to see such a diverse group of people from the East Neuk forming into a community and benefiting from the growing experience, young and old having fun and being introduced to people they would otherwise never have met.

“It’s especially pleasing to see the number of children and young people taking part.  Hopefully, this allotment has planted the seeds for a lifetime interest in gardening and growing food.”

Pupils from St Monan’s Primary School have planted an orchard at the allotment and designed signs for every shed that comes with each plot.

The pupils are also learning about where food comes from and how to grow their own.

There are 39 plots at the site but demand outstrips supply and there is a growing waiting list to join this popular ground force.

“Other people will benefit from what’s being grown here because they will go home and give their neighbour half a cabbage or some tomatoes and that’s the benefit of the whole thing for me,” said Peter Duncan, allotments officer with Fife Council.

Patricia Mensah has put her own stamp on her allotment, adding a hammock and planting lots of colourful flowers.

“It’s a real community space so it’s really good for your mental health,” she said.

“Since I’ve come here I’ve met lots of friends and neighbours because I’m new into the village, I’ve only been here five years, so it’s great to be able to meet people in a social space.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in