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The Ridge

27 March 2014

The Ridge (Scotland) used an award from the Deutsche Bank Small Grants Fund to help run a new gardening project for young people in Dunbar, East Lothian.

Established in 2012, The Ridge (Scotland) offers alternative opportunities for young people to develop their employability skills, personal health and wellbeing and environmental awareness.

In 2013 the group developed The Ridge Horticultural Pilot Project, in response to rising youth unemployment and a continued lack of skills and training opportunities for young people in the area. The aim of the project was to give a small group of young people, aged 13-18, the opportunity to work together to plan and create a community garden. The scheme, which ran from January to June 2013, allowed youngsters to learn basic horticultural and rural skills.

Participants were tasked with preparing, planting, harvesting and cooking fruit and vegetables which were grown in the community garden. They also assumed responsibility for maintaining the area and keeping it tidy.

In addition, youngsters were offered a wide range of training opportunities from basic gardening to hard landscaping such as willow weaving and dry stane dyking. They were also taught how to use various horticultural tools which were purchased with the grant, including a lawnmower, strimmer and hedge-cutter.

One young man was so inspired and enthused by his experience of working on the Ridge Horticultural Pilot Project that he applied successfully to the Scottish Agricultural College/Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh to study for a BSc in Horticulture with Plantsmanship. He is currently undertaking work experience in Dunedin Botanical Gardens in New Zealand as part of his course!

Another two project participants became interested in running their own gardening businesses, and The Ridge was able to offer them advice about how to further develop their ambitions.

What’s more, The Ridge (Scotland) was able to use the equipment purchased with the grant to welcome a number of local youngsters and volunteers to work in the garden as a means to learn skills and foster community spirit. The Dunbar Primary School Gardening Club, for example, took part in a soil, science and wildflower meadow project.

All of the Pilot Project participants seemed to enjoy their experience of working outdoors and learning new skills. Many certainly appeared more confident, having developed a greater sense of self belief; they were so delighted to see their efforts bearing very tangible and impressive fruits (literally at times!).

One young person said “I really enjoyed working outside in the community garden. I like learning new skills, whilst doing something that’s actually quite fun.”

Kate Darrah, Director of The Ridge said, “The award from the Deutsche Bank Small Grants Fund was absolutely invaluable in allowing us to deliver such a successful and high impact project. Creating a community garden was an enormous challenge, but it gave us the opportunity to offer an unusually wide range of training and experience to local young people.”

Watch an inspiring video about The Ridge project here.

Deutsche Bank launched its youth engagement programme, Born to Be, last year - aiming to support 160,000 by 2017 with the opportunities they need to succeed in life. Since 2006, the Deutsche Bank Small Grants Fund has distributed over £750,000 to local groups.

For more information on Born to Be, visit db.com/borntobe

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