ADULTS with learning needs have registered for an award after developing their green fingers.
Students who use the adult day services at Fisherrow Community Centre in Musselburgh have been visiting one of Edinburgh College’s community gardens.
They have been engaging in a mix of seven horticultural activities, including cultivation, composting, plant-care and harvesting.
After spending the summer helping out weekly at the garden they registered for the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society’s (RCHS) Recognition of Individual Achievement in Horticulture Award, and are now working towards achieving this.
The award recognises the achievement and learning experience of individuals with complex learning needs in a garden environment.
It is hoped that students who achieve the award will go on to a second level of the scheme, which is currently under development by RCHS.
The nine students have been split into two groups, and visit once a week for a few hours. Each group has their own growing space in the garden where they grow vegetables that they can take either back to Fisherrow to use in a cooking activity or home to share with their household.
The award also includes a personal learning plan, where students identify self-improvement goals such as improved timekeeping, teamwork or learning a social skill. Individuals progress at their own pace, encouraged and inspired by the achievement of others. Achievement is assessed through compiling a portfolio and recording of evidence, which are formally verified by the RCHS.
The Milton Road Community Garden was established in September 2012 to transform an area of previously unused land into a green space for staff, students and the local community to grow plants, vegetables and fruit. The project has been so successful that Edinburgh College now has a second community garden at the Sighthill Campus.
Colin Jeffrey, Fisherrow Hub manager, said: “The community garden at Edinburgh College has provided people who use the service at Fisherrow in Musselburgh an invaluable opportunity to undertake practical gardening tasks, which they are now learning and developing in order to undertake the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society Award, or Caley Award.
“This is a fantastic new opportunity for the involved individuals, which is developing their practical skills in horticulture as well as supporting skills development in other areas, geared towards individuals’ specific personal goals, included as part of the award.
Severine Monvoisin, community garden coordinator at the college, said: “The Caley Award is about recognising achievement. Far more importantly, it also gives individuals with complex learning needs opportunities for learning new skills and achieving in an inclusive environment.
“The gardening activities and knowledge are a medium to progress in their life by increasing the social interaction with others, learning to express their feelings, developing a better understanding about the environment, increasing confidence and self-esteem, learning to work together, increasing their abilities.
“For all the garden’s participants, coming to the garden is strongly linked to improved emotional health: they learn and exchange views about the importance of healthy eating and healthy lifestyle, are active in an outdoor environment, build social contact in a safe and relaxed environment and, importantly, become part of a community.”