The Development Trust is delighted to announce that it has been successful in its application to the Climate Challenge Fund for the “Greener ColGlen” project. The project which is worth £172,357, will run from October 2013 until the end of March 2015, employ a project officer and an administrator, and follows on from the trust’s highly successful ‘Warmer ColGlen’ project which has just finished.
“What will our Community look like in 2050?” This is a considered first step on the journey by Colintraive and Glendaruel Community towards greater resilience in the face of extreme weather events, climate change and the increasing centralisation of goods and services.
This project aims to establish a food growing group within the Community, to include all growers, past, present and future. 2 polytunnels in central points of the two villages will provide focus for activity – growing food, sharing tools, plants and tips and engaging socially. Participants will be able to take advantage of the extended season, trial and research different varieties, and learn how to make the most of local conditions to improve the range of fresh fruit and veg available. A website and blog, food waste workshops and a harvest festival event to celebrate the first growing season will be held.
Composting facilities will be adjacent to the polytunnels and will demonstrate good practise with garden waste, which is not uplifted by the Local Authority. Re-usable bags will be supplied to households to fill and leave out for volunteers to collect when passing to drop off at either site. A composting and food waste event and chipper training will give growers and volunteers the opportunity to learn new skills and a Community wood-chipper will render garden waste that would otherwise have been burnt, fly-tipped or rotted, into compost for the growers.
Stronafian Community Forest will provide a sustainable source of woodfuel for the Community in 2 or 3 years time. Meanwhile, as Rhododendron Ponticum has been identified as a particular threat locally, harvesting mature plants will help to interrupt the spread for one season, and also provide burning wood, kindling and charcoal, amongst other benefits. Currently 4 out of 10 households, from a snapshot, ‘import’ woodfuel from other areas and this initial local supply will help to increase choice and localise buying habits. Private and Community spaces will receive a free initial service of cutting back mature specimens. Community members will be trained in techniques to continue the eradication work.
So far in the UK only 306 households have proceeded with a Green Deal Plan. New support for 5% of householders providing local Green Deal Assessments will improve uptake of the funding available locally. Availability and cost of assessments – due to the remote geography – and understanding of the various schemes are barriers to uptake. Local knowledge is key to identifying eligible properties, and the Assessor will compile a portfolio of dwellings to attract funding with support from Home Energy Scotland to link up with local contractors, minimising travel. Heat mapping will also help to identify where a ‘mini warm zone’ can be created for a cluster of local buildings. This will build on the raised awareness and engagement achieved by the Warmer ColGlen Project.
A full-time Project Development Officer will oversee the project, coordinate the Community, volunteers and contractors to install the infrastructure and deliver the other outcomes, also providing or organising the Green Deal Assessments, and a part-time Project Admin and Communications Officer will provide support with payroll, purchasing, marketing and communications.
The polytunnels and composting will be valuable community facilities. The Growing Group will continue to take forward the improved health and social benefits and on going carbon savings by growing more food. They will have the capacity to expand not just in numbers, but also to other possible sites within the Community that have been offered, for example to set up a Community orchard. Other projects would include expansion into the Community Forest – allotment, croft or farm – and other types of food production – meat, seafood and bee-keeping – can all be explored.
Gardeners will be able to continue contributing their garden waste to the compost project and also benefit from the produced soil improver. The skills and training will enable the volunteers to continue the operation of the site.
By beginning a project of eradication of ponticum in the local area, and raising awareness of uses for the wood and eradication methods, the Community will have the skills and capacity to continue the work, also benefitting from increased supply / demand of local woodfuel until timber begins to be made available from the Community Forest. This will ensure continued carbon savings, opportunities for local employment for the trained people, and increased biodiversity in the cleared sites. This activity is also in line with the aims of the Development Trust and will be a core activity in the Community Forest Management Plan.
Eventually this supply chain will lead into a robust woodfuel sales enterprise, due to increased demand and year round activity, it will provide employment and sales income.
Households who have received Green Deal or Green Homes cashback vouchers and/or ECO measures will continue to benefit from reduced energy use. Even if their energy bills do not decrease, they will be able to live in increased comfort. Households and buildings that have been identified as suitable for conversion to a district heating scheme can look forward to leading the way with new technology and enjoy considerably reduced fuel bills. ColGlen’s built heritage will be brought up to standard for the next generation to enjoy.
The legacy of this project will be that ColGlen will be working towards adaptation to climate change and will be considerably closer to the vision of “What will our Community look like in 2050?”