Project Gathering Views for City Seedlings

DAMH Greenbuds group at James Hutton Institute
Above: Members of Greenbuds with James Hutton Institute plant breeding staff and Snook at the Institute last week

Group users of Dundee Association for Mental Health (DAMH) visited the James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, last week to hear more about soft fruit and crop science from scientists and breeders, and about the Tayberry Seedling project.

Tayberry Seedling is an Innovate UK funded project (number 133145) focussing on ‘urban agriculture’ as a way of getting more soft fruit to members of the community who often find fresh fruit and vegetables hard to come by – whether through social, financial or geographical barriers.  Managed by James Hutton Limited, the Institute’s commercial subsidiary, the project goal is to research and develop a model for soft fruit growing in public spaces to make soft fruit accessible and make a small but positive contribution to alleviating food poverty and health issues in society.

Snook, a Glasgow based service design and social innovation company, has been undertaking the research for the project and the James Hutton Institute has been inputting with soft fruit breeding and production experience and agricultural advice.

On the James Hutton Institute’s doorstep, Dundee has been selected as a city model for the research and Snook has spent recent weeks engaging with a range of stakeholders, from academics to community groups, exploring how citizens of the City might interact and engage with such a scheme.  DAMH is the first group to visit the Institute in relation to the project and it is thought that users from DAMH’s ‘Greenbuds’ group in particular, which supports individuals to access the outdoors to improve mental health and wellbeing and takes an interest in the development of local green spaces, is just one group that might be able to contribute opinions to how an eventual community project might work. 

Project Manager, David Somerville of James Hutton Limited explains, “There are a lot of layers to this project.  There’s a certain amount of changing perceptions and habits by exploring and sharing with groups - what are the preferred fruits, where would you usually find them and what different things can you do with them? And also, supporting a ‘can do’ attitude of, where can we grow these, what space and equipment would we need, how do we manage the care of the plants and the harvesting and distribution of the fruit?”

David continues, “Not only will a successful project lead to the provision of healthy, nutritious food for communities, the production of the fruit will include the benefits of physical activity and fresh air along with the potential to increase green space in urban areas, which is known to have a positive impact on mental health.  Talking to a number of local groups, with differing interests and aims, will give us an understanding of the needs of citizens from different areas of society and ensure that the end results are focussed and relevant.”

A spokesperson for DAMH said, "The Greenbuds group really enjoyed their visit to the James Hutton Institute. It was a great opportunity to find out more about the processes involved in growing berries and have a look behind the scenes.  We would like to thank the Institute for putting together a relaxed and informative session that allowed individuals, who would not normally have the opportunity, to engage with a scientific organisation. We hope to put into practice some of the things we have learned!"

Greenbuds Facebook page can be found HERE