Charity group, Alford and District Men’s Shed, won the hearts of the public as part of the Stewart Milne Group campaign, Greener Spaces, Better Places. The charitable group, based in Aberdeenshire received the highest number of votes from the public for its plans to create a sensory garden, community orchard and series of allotments across its site.
The leading independent homebuilder and timber systems manufacturer, Stewart Milne Group, devised the Greener Spaces, Better Places campaign to transform communal outdoor areas for the benefit of whole communities by making them greener and more attractive.
The projects had to demonstrate how they would encourage greater bio-diversity through the planting of new grass, flowers and trees, as well as promoting community spirit by bringing people together to work on the transformation.
Stewart Milne Group chief executive, Glenn Allison said: “The Greener Spaces, Better Places campaign is underpinned by our commitment to promote bio-diversity and make outdoor areas more appealing places to live by and enjoy. The result of this campaign is the provision of support from our Stewart Milne Group team to develop and transform run down and unused communal outdoor areas across the UK that have been nominated by the local community.
“By investing in this site, we aim to create legacies of greater bio-diversity, allowing local outdoor green spaces to attract a variety of species of wildlife, as well as encouraging people to work on the make-over of these sites and get a taste for gardening.”
Having received the keys to the old Alford Academy building earlier this year, the local group entered the project to help support the development of the building into a community space for meeting up with hobby facilities, including wood working and metalworking.
The makeover of the Alford and District project will help to improve the outdoor space to encourage increased community engagement at the site and, in turn, reduce social problems of isolation and depression.
The newly created allotments will be available to individuals or families on an annual basis, and the community orchard and accessible sensory garden will be open to all, with accessibility for wheelchair users and those with impaired ambulation.
The completed work at the Alford site includes raised beds, a community orchard with forty fruit trees, and nineteen half-size allotments which, according to the charity, meets one of the aims of the 2010 Donside Community Council Plan.
Glenn Allison, explained: “The Alford District and Men’s Shed site has achieved an extensive transformation since winning the Greener Spaces, Better Places campaign. The assortment of new features on the site includes an impressive variety of flowers, greenspace and quiet areas to sit, relax and enjoy the outdoors.
“The improvements to the garden will provide many benefits to the local community by allowing families and those suffering from social isolation to engage with a variety of horticultural activities. We are very pleased to have been involved in connecting local communities together through the development of gardening activities and wildlife spaces across a variety of locations throughout Scotland and the North of England.”
Alford and District Men’s Shed secretary, John Reid, said: “Since winning the award we have been able to successfully develop and dramatically enhance our gardening site for the future, as well as bring a sense of unity to the local Alford community.”
“We feel incredibly lucky to have been involved in the Greener Spaces, Better Places campaign which has allowed the Alford Men’s site to benefit many across the local community. We cannot thank Stewart Milne Group enough, for their continued commitment to help communities enhance their horticultural surroundings and promote local biodiversity and wildlife.”