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Greyfriars Herb Garden

Started in November 2008, Greyfriars Herb Garden sought to provide a therapeutic garden that linked in with the historical use of the site.[1] Over the course of the first year, three plant beds have been fully established at various points in the graveyard and spring 2010 will see the establishment of beds five and six plus a wildflower area. The group combines outdoor and indoor activities and utilises communal teaching methods, drawing upon volunteer’s skill sets and experience to educate volunteers about the uses of herbs and their preparation. Outdoor activities consist of digging, planting and harvesting, whereas indoor activities include bed planning, a herb study time and group communal meals with the wood workshop and cookery course.

Herbs harvested have been made into a variety of saleable items such as teas, bath bags, lip balms and sleep pillows and the culinary herbs have begun to be used within the cookery programmes.

The project has one paid Sessional Worker and sees an average of 6 volunteers per session. Although the majority of volunteers have not come directly through the other services offered by the project many the volunteers who regularly attend are dealing with mental health and social exclusion issues. The project also attempts to engage with rough sleepers who live in the graveyard and in many ways it is believed the rough sleepers prevent vandalism to the beds.

Greyfriars Herb Garden has also opened its door to other agencies that might benefit from the therapeutic and educational aspect of the garden. In the past year groups have been welcomed from BUPA and the Rock Trust. Formal partnerships have also been established with Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens and Trellis with both the Sessional worker and volunteers participating in networking events and/or leading workshops.

2010 will see the further establishment of two more beds, one of which is being planned as a dyers bed with the hope to eventually link in with the textiles project for the dying of wool and fabric.


[1] Prior to the erection of Greyfriars Kirk and graveyard a Franciscan herb garden occupied the site.