Leith Community Crops in Pots aims to grow healthy, sustainable food, and provide a bit of country life, in the heart of an urban community. Over the last 2 years, Crops in Pots was has turned a dull grey, barren, entirely concreted yard in the heart of Leith into a fascinating, ever-changing slice of nature on the doorstep.
The organisation engages in a wide range of activities, including developing wildlife habitats, composting, creating recycled art and wood salvaging. It runs environmental and healthy eating clubs in local primary schools, and has a community garden on Leith Link where it plans to set up a local food market, healthy cafe and farm shop as social enterprises.
This past weekend saw Crops in Pots partner with St. James Church in Leith for their annual Harvest Festival - a fantastic way to give thanks to the land that has provided the community with so much yummy food over the season. With music, dancing and storytelling from Marie Louise Cochrane (Mrs. Mash) and a pot luck feast of food, the community came together to Dare to Dream of what our urban spaces could all look like!
In the blog below, storyteller Marie-Louisereflects on qualities we need to nurture ourselves, our children, our communities, our land and our dreams.
"I moved to Leith Links about twenty-two years ago. The waiting list for an allotment back then was about six years. Our communal green consisted of a border of dying overgrown shrubs encircling a blue tarpaulin, covered with red chucky stanes since no one would cut the grass. 15 years later, my neighbour came to me and suggested we make some changes. So we all got together, hefted stones, chipped in for a gardener who replaced the tarpaulin with turf and a raised bed, and the place was transformed. The new back green really improved our family’s quality of life.
A few years ago I heard about Crops in Pots: a local project growing food with kids, encouraging outdoor play and supporting the bees. I thought it sounded great and offered them my storytelling skills and my good will. Never could I have dreamed that three years later there would be a community growing space called Leith Croft on Leith Links - that schools nearby with pupils, parents and staff would be helping to grow food, with our very own community Orchardnearby!
I find our community progress incredible, amazing and exciting. Not only the interest in food, growing, health and being outside, but also the building up of community that goes on through these activities. The struggle, conflict and finding of solutions which taking part creates.
At the Croft’s Harvest Celebration this year, I was telling stories and encouraging a sing along of songs written for the project. I shared a favourite story of mine about a young girl (who, alongside many others) is given responsibility to grow a seed from a pot. Despite incredible efforts to nurture the seed in the pot, nothing grows. Knowing she had done her best and, wanting to be honest and return the pot - despite no signs of life - she returns it to the owner. The owner is delighted! The girl is the only one who has returned the pot as it was given to them. All other pots are filled with amazing plants, but only the owner knows that there was in fact no seed in the pot. The owner of the pot is looking for someone who will do all the right things, who will work, nurture, and persevere in the face of limited success and then be willing to be honest about the process. I think these are qualities we need to nurture ourselves, our children, our communities, our land and our dreams."
Thanks to Lari Don who shared the Seed story with me on a bus to Leith one day.