The Greenfingers Project
In 1999 negotiations took place between LAD and the Highland Council’s Social Works Dept. for LAD to remove a redundant aluminium framed greenhouse and have it rebuilt at it’s present site. Other negotiations took place with the Leisure & Recreation Dept for LAD to have the use of a redundant area of ground, amounting to approximately 1.5 acres, at a corner site in Claggan Sports Field.
Spearheaded by Dr. Sen and volunteers the area of ground was cleared and the 30 x 12 foot greenhouse was rebuilt. In June 2000, Caol in Bloom used the facilities to nurture their plants for display around the village. It became clear that a wider range of people could use the greenhouse all year round and once again Dr. Sen arranged for adults with learning difficulties to attend the project. After considerable negotiations The Highland Council’s Social Works Dept agreed to fund a part-time employee to run the project and in 2003 the project was being attended by up to 40 visits a week from eight different service providers, plus volunteers.
It became clear quickly that the project was a huge success and to help the project develop, an application was made to the National Lottery for funding. In 2005 the application was successful and an award of £12000 was granted through the Health & Happiness section of the Lottery. This funding allowed the project to purchase a large polly-tunnel, a large wooden workshop/potting shed, numerous tools and equipment and also allowed the project to purchase many plants, compost etc. It also allowed the project to purchase wood to build many planters, raised beds, build a pond, create a vegetable plot, herb garden and much more.
The general public give donations from time to time of garden related items and this adds to the success of the project. Guest speakers are invited to give talks on related matters and in 2008 the project became a group member of the John Muir Trust. The Trust owns the mountain range which includes Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the U.K. and as the project sits at the foot of Ben Nevis, the Trust takes a great deal of interest in the Project.
In 2009 the NHS contacted the project requesting that we form a partnership and helped fund the purchase of a large heavy-duty polythene workshop. The Leisure and Recreation Dept gifted the metal arched framework to the project. They also erected it on site. The workshop is to be used for repairing and building gardening related items, repairing a small clinker built boat and for general leisure/meeting area. This is an ideal recreational and educational facility.
Princess Royal Opens Gardens.
Kilmallie Community Garden Project
The gardens are now well established, with mature trees and shrubs in abundance but are in desperate need of volunteers to help maintain its appearance (just 1hr each week would be greatly appreciated) if anyone is interested please contact L.A.D.
The grounds adjacent to Kilmallie Hall in Corpach had already been landscaped and a geological display of a circle of stones of local origin had been created. In 1997 this area was named ‘Jim Leslie Gardens .’
This present project is to establish a fully accessible multi-sensory garden on the waste land between the Stone circle and the houses in Hill View Drive.
In early 1997 a small area of the ground was cleared with the help of volunteers from Prince’s Trust (Maryhill, Glasgow and Lochaber Action on Disability. Jim Dunlevy and Marie MaKenzie grand father and mother of Claire started to establish a garden in memory of three of our members who were tragically killed in a road accident while travelling to a disabled swimmers competition.
In September 1997 the project was extended to cover a large area. With the help of Jim MacCallum a local designer and Helen Semple, Arts Officer of Culture and Leisure Department a plan was agreed.
The project has continued with the help of over 160 volunteers who have given over 2000 hours of hard work. Volunteers of all ages from various parts of Lochaber and from Adult Training Centre, Key Housing, Garbhein House, Lochaber Action on Disability, Air Training Cadets, Lochaber High School, Criminal Justices Service and Lochaber Council on Alcohol have worked to create this garden.
Local businesses, Campbell Homes, C. MacColl, Alex Campbell of Bentalla, Forest Enterprise, Hydro-electric, Corrie Construction, Saw Mills have donated various material, machinery and men.
We have received financial help from CWS Dividend Scheme, Highland Council, Lochaber Limited, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Natural Heritage, Rotary Club of Lochaber, Bank of Scotland and many individual donors.
The project was included by the ‘Hit Squad’ of Beechgrove Garden Programme of BBC Scotland and was televised. Articles featuring the garden has been published in all the local news papers and in the Lochaber Life magazine.
The project has received ‘Commendation’ from the national ‘Environmental Regeneration Award’ of Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Enterprise, award was presented by Lord Sewell, Minister for Environment, at a ceremony in Glasgow.
The completed project features wheelchair suitable pathways with a Maze, Memorial beds, Picnic area, top garden with trees and bushes from various parts of the world, Multi-sensory and raised beds for disabled gardeners, Biblical Garden, Indian Friendship grove, Scottish woodland walk, Oriental Garden, Highland Heather bed, Boat planter Memorial seats and many other features.
All this in one of the most scenic areas of Scotland, where else can you stand and view Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis, the Caledonian Canal and a panoramic view over Loch Linnhe of historic Fort William and Glen Nevis. An added bonus is to see the Jacobite Steam Train heading for Mallaig at the bottom of the garden.
HRH The Princess Royal has kindly agreed to formally opened the gardens on Thursday, 14th October at 11am.