This afternoon, Friday 15 June, people gathered at the Lewis & Harris Horticultural Producers (LHHP) allotments site at the back of Lews Castle College to see what has been going on recently – there has been some good progress with more people working the allotment sites and polytunnels to grow a vast array of fruit, vegetables, herbs and some flowers.
The wooden 'shed', inherited from the ARCH project 10 years ago, has now got an off grid electricity supply from solar panels installed on the roof (courtesy of a £1000 grant from TIG).
The building now has a working toilet and a comfortable kitchen/meeting area to be used for group talks and as a base for showing off the site - with heating, kettle etc. all running off the solar power gathered. The next project is for a concrete access path (likely within a month) following grant aid from NHS Western Isles.
The site has a number of allotment plots, as well as the shared polytunnels and a net tunnel, with plans for more tunnels to make a longer growing season, and for those wet and windy days when it's good to have some shelter.
Matt Bruce and Susanne Erbida showed visitors around. Matt said, "400 trees have been planted around the site, which has improved the drainage so it should not be so wet during winter. It is not a perfect site yet but we are getting there!"
There is a real sense of community with knowledge and plants passed between growers. The site offers a retreat too, it may only be a few minutes from the centre of town but being surrounded by the Castle Grounds it offers peace and quiet, with the edition of some wildlife spotting as small birds pop in and buzzards fly overhead.
LHHP also have a polytunnel full of strawberries which they sell on site, as well as other fruit and veg at their stall in Stornoway centre every Saturday, with all the money going back in to developing the site even further.
For more information on LHHP visit their Facebook page here.