HIDDEN beyond the woods of the picturesque town of Innerleithen is a garden that not only looks good, it tastes good too.

This community has proved you can have your garden and eat it too, with the creation of an Edible Garden – for people not furry four-legged gate crashers.

Through St Ronan’s School carpark towards the Community Centre is a beautiful gardeners’ metropolis created by little and large green-fingers of the town.

As you enter through the small gate in the wooden picket fence, you’ll find a wonderful collection of raised beds stacked with rainbow chard, potato bags bursting with forests of green foliage, and fruit bushes weeping with the weight of their blackcurrants and gooseberries. The beds are trimmed neatly with green paths of grass and only the odd weed or two can be seen to peer through the burgeoning beetroot and beans.

Often you’ll also come across one of the volunteers, the gardener or if you’re very lucky, one or more of the children who help to tend the plants.

The Edible Garden is a community garden nestled in the beautiful Tweed Valley at Innerleithen and run by a steering group and volunteers.

Its aim is to inspire, motivate and build confidence in adults and children of all ages and abilities to learn how to grow their own food to promote a healthy lifestyle, to encourage the community to prevent food waste, reuse/recycle to reduce landfill and to reduce their carbon footprint.

The St Ronanites are horticulturists turned eco warriors, providing a range of workshops for the community in how to grow, harvest and recycle.

Lessons include guidance on composting, propagating, soil preparation, solar power for growing, food preservation, seasonal planting, and bugs/pests in the garden, carbon footprint and food waste recycling.

The vibrant goings-on have recently stepped up a gear with the efforts of the steering group of Shirley Spence, Lisa Kurowski Leslie and Alex Smithson to win a share of the Tweeddale Localities Bid funding.

This has secured the future of the garden for years to come and means that the shift of responsibility from the climate change group ‘You Can Cook’ to the independent body known as ‘The Edible Garden’ is now complete.

Shirley Spence said the support of the public and the staff and children of St Ronan’s Primary School have been crucial to this success.

“It will allow the steering group to provide a part-time gardener, Alex Smithson, serve the school’s Eco Group with practical experience of environmental issues and fund the supply of equipment, compost and building materials for the foreseeable future.”

However, for those of you who have yet to find the garden, perhaps it would be helpful to whet your appetite with some details of what the project has accomplished so far.

Firstly, as well as offering expert gardening advice to the supporters, Alex plans and prepares the crops and liaises with school staff to provide classes for the children to teach them about their environment and carbon footprint.

The classes look at areas from recycling and horticulture to microbes and ecology. This educational programme and the informal weekly gardening clubs allow both adults and children to experience a connection to nature in a supported environment and take home some of the produce they’ve grown too.

Shirley explained: “All of the children at the school benefit from the fruit and vegetables grown in the enclosed garden but also from the orchard and the fruit bushes at the schools entrance. They can pick their own five-a day where the food hasn’t ever met a plastic tray or a supermarket checkout.”

The garden’s outreach doesn’t stop at the food though. There are a number of initiatives that the group hope will compliment the ethos of environmental action.

• Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair Rotary Club – The Rotary Club has sponsored The Edible Garden which has enabled them to get leaflets, brochures and posters to help promote their bid for the Localities Fund. They have agreed to continue to sponsor the Edible Garden to ensure that it thrives in the future.

• The Allotment – The Edible Garden, Innerleithen, will now be working with The Allotment, Innerleithen, who are sponsors. Every Friday afternoon volunteers will take veg/fruit leftover to The Allotment where locals can buy the freshly picked, organic produce. All proceeds go to help the Edible Garden with funds for supplies.

• Terracycle with Walkers Crisps – One of the latest projects is done through Terracycle. St Ronan’s Youth and Community Centre is now the local drop off point for the recycling of Walkers’ crisp packets with the proceeds going towards funds for the garden. In time more of these schemes will be added that compliment the efforts of the children of the Eco Team at the school and the Edible Garden is looking forward to supporting all of these fantastic projects for the schoolchildren. You can find more information on this from https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/brigades/crisppacket