University community, an orchard and a micro-forest

It’s been an inspirational experience working with colleagues from ENSA, The Business School and the Development Office, dreaming-up how, moderate funding, from the Community Climate Asset Fund could be put to use at Napier.


In the first place I was delighted to have been enthused by Clive Gee’s positive energy when he suggested, out of the blue, that The Lions’ Gate could go for CCAF funding, though the turnaround would have to be very quick, not much more than a week as I remember it.

Well, activities are destined to hit snags. And we soon realised that there was no real way for The Lions’ Gate to get funding as its status has yet to be defined. Previous attempts to use Napier’s charity status had been unsuccessful. Though ‘social enterprise‘ or ‘co-op‘ seem our most likely organisational structure, as time goes by. However, as Ankit Dougal (ENSA President) has continued to be another force of positive energy for the project, we settled on the idea of trying to get funding in collaboration with ENSA.


Ankit was happy to be a part of things as much as he’s lent a hand on numerous occasions, and we put together our proposal. Clive did all of the pulling together necessary, and we wouldn’t have got very far without him. Soon afterwards we heard that we’d been successful, though some of our plans failed to get funding, namely an outdoor classroom and seating and tables. With hindsight, this CCAF funding is really for purchasing items that directly involve planting and biodiversity.

So, for both Craiglockhart and Sighthill we’ve purchased raised beds, a water-harvesting kit, top-soil and compost. Each campus will also get around twenty plants that have culinary and medicinal benefits. Furthermore, Sighthill will get four local cultivar apple trees and two plums. We’d like (though it’s still to be agreed) to plant a small micro-forest up there, but there’s plenty of time to decide what can be done. Craiglockhart will take delivery of 10 fruit trees, mostly apples, so essentially will be getting a small orchard as a destination in the cross-university plan for a ‘thinking walk’ around the grounds.


Thanks have to go to Miles Weaver who has been instrumental in pushing the case for improving the grounds up at Craiglockhart in a sustainable sense, to Dee, Alisdair and Helen at ENSA who have all helped steer the ship, and Lisa MacMillan for input from the Sighthill Gardening Club. I’m sure Sustainability Manager Jamie Pearson must have been involved too, lockdown has done funny things to the memory…

We also purchased lots of seeds and bird-feeders. Seeds to rewild areas of the campuses with plants indigenous to the Edinburgh area, and lots of new herbs and vegetables too, and bird feeders and feed to attract our feathered friends, as crucial contributors to a healthy polyculture. The way we plant should attract bees and insects and birds and in time with small and thoughtful interventions we can tweak the spaces so that they provide abundance for all.

If you’d like to get involved with planting up any of these sustainability initiatives (it’ll be fun, satisfying and you’ll sleep well that night), then please get in touch.

St John's Wort