Hermitage Park Community Kitchen Garden Project

Hermitage Park Community Kitchen Garden

Supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund


This project has now been completed. Read below for details of the project.


Fantastic news! Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, Hermitage Academy is able to run a project with the Friends of Hermitage Park to create a community kitchen garden in Hermitage Park (Logo down below!).

Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Seona Reid, said: “I am delighted that Hermitage Academy has been successful in securing an award from the Year of Young People National Lottery Fund. This funding will help young people to make a positive change in their lives and I wish Hermitage Academy every success as it works to improve young people’s health and wellbeing in celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People.”

A kitchen garden is one where produce for use in the kitchen is grown and pupils are currently deciding on a theme for our kitchen garden. Suggestions so far include smoothies, medicinal plants and hobbits. We will soon be meeting with Melissa Simpson, Park Manager with Argyll & Bute Council and senior member of Friends of Hermitage Park, to discuss the viability of these proposals and come to a decision.

The project has a variety of main aims: first of all we want to involve pupils from the start in the development, delivery and evaluation of the project; then we are looking to improve pupils’ physical and mental health through the physical act of gardening, pupils improving and expanding upon their skill sets, more interest in and a greater understanding of the local community and the environment, and greater community involvement leading to a heightened sense of belonging; finally we want to celebrate and share our pupils’ achievements with a community event.

Over the next 18 months we will be making monthly trips to the park to work on the project, with pupils deciding upon the tools, equipment and plants to purchase with the funding we have secured thanks to the National Lottery. We will be looking at how such projects strengthen mental health and surveying pupils and the public to discover whether or not our project makes a difference to this. Towards the end we will be celebrating our pupils’ achievements with a community event, to be decided upon by the pupils.

Keep an eye out for regular updates. We will be posting our progress on the school website, twitter feed, the council website, Friends of Hermitage Park Facebook page and, of course, you can see our progress in the Demonstration Gardens in Hermitage Park. The next trip there is on Thursday 27th September.

Mrs McLeod, 11/9/18


Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 1 – Friday 31st August 2018

This was our 3rd monthly trip to Hermitage Park for a spot of gardening and the first one funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The sun shone for 11 lucky pupils (and their teachers!) who were able to experience using saws, loppers and secateurs to strip, chop down and burn trees as well as weeding a patch of land ready for mulching and then, of course, mulching it. As well as the physical and mental benefits, pupils learned new gardening skills and practised the skills of communication, cooperation and problem solving. The next trip is on Thursday 27th September but, in the meantime, here are some photos and what some of the pupils had to say about the experience:


I went to Hermitage Park on August 31st 2018. I really enjoyed the hard work and it was a good sunny day. Horse flies and wasps were everywhere. It was a sense of accomplishment when we moved the branches and wood chips.


Today I went to Hermitage Park and I played in the new play park because they said we were allowed but that was at lunch time after I did my first thing which was wheel barrowing. After I pulled out the weeds and that was for fresh soil but I really enjoy it because it was really fun and I learned how to saw down trees.



On the 31st August I went to Hermitage Park and gardened. We cut down trees and branches. We pushed down mulch with a broken rake. We pushed wheelbarrows. I learned new skills like using a saw and teamwork. My shoes got muddy. ☹


On Friday the 31st August I went to Hermitage Park with my Eco Group. I thought it was awesome. I started by wheelbarrowing mulch around but then started using a fork to loosen the mulch and put it in the barrow. Then at lunch I killed a deer fly and scared Michael with it. I took some photos and started clipping ivy then I helped chop down a tree. I had lots of fun and can’t wait to do it again.



Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 2 – Thursday 27th September 2018

This was another very successful trip. Although it was drizzling as we set off, the rain cleared up before we were half-way there and it stayed dry for the rest of the day so it was a very pleasant experience.

When we arrived at Hermitage Park, Melissa, the Park Manager introduced herself and Stewart, the Assistant Park Manager, and then walked us to the container shed we were to use as a base. We off-loaded our bags, changed into wellies and Melissa gave us our safety briefing. Not all pupils had brought the correct footwear (steel-toed boots, sturdy boots or wellies – strictly no trainers!) so they were restricted in the tasks they could do.

For the first hour Stewart, Mr Cameron and Mrs Dean took the senior school pupils to pull down an old fence, salvage any fence posts they could and use them to repair a newer fence. They were shown the correct use of saws, hammers and wheelbarrows and told to wear gloves at all times. Stewart explained how to perform the tasks safely and gave each group of pupils a specific task, including taking away excess foliage and unsalvageable wood. The pupils had to work together to accomplish this and agree on the best strategy.

Meanwhile Melissa and Mrs McLeod took the 3 S1 pupils to work on preparing the beds for planting. The pupils were shown how to handle hoes and wheel-barrows safely and the beds were divided into 1m wide strips so each girl could work on her own area without getting in each other’s way. They raked the top of the soil, which had already been cleared roughly, and put any weeds and large stones into a bucket to be emptied into a wheelbarrow and taken away.

Pupils were given 45 minutes for lunch and were allowed to try out the new playground equipment when they had finished eating. Then we went back to the gardening for another hour before finishing up.

We walked back to school and everyone had a 10 minute comfort break before meeting for a debrief. Mrs McLeod explained to pupils that they need to log onto Show My Homework and send a paragraph about their experience using the prompts they had been sent. There was also a list of skills and an Experience Log that is purely for the pupils’ own benefit so they can start to build up a list of skills and experiences they can use when completing their personal statement etc. All pupils agreed they had really enjoyed the experience and found it beneficial. All thanks to funding from the National Lottery, of course.

Here is what one pupil had to say about the trip:

As part of the Eco Schools initiative to create our own self-sustainable kitchen garden, we went to Hermitage Park to help get the surrounding area set up.  While some of the younger pupils were raking leaves in the kitchen garden itself, the rest of us were dismantling a rotting fence and using the remains to help re-build another one nearby. There was plenty to do, as we were knocking down the old posts, sawing planks that were too long, building the new fence or even hauling the scraps and useless posts up to a designated area.  In particular, I learned a few things, such as fence (re)construction and just how important     co-ordination is in the workplace. There were lots of skills used, such as communication, teamwork and organisation. This was definitely an enjoyable experience for me, as I was able to improve on skills I already knew as well as learning something new. 



Eco Schools Visit From Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 3 – Wednesday 31st October 2018

Thanks to funding form the National Lottery, October saw Melissa Simpson, Park Manager and Trustee of Friends of Hermitage Park, Stewart Irons, Assistant Park Manager, and David Rennie from the Social Enterprise Team, all Argyll & Bute Council employees, come to Hermitage Academy to work with pupils in choosing the best seeds for our environment, and teach them about different soils as well as about the when and how of planting.

In the morning pupils discussed a variety of themes for the kitchen garden and used seed catalogues and the internet to decide what kind of plants to use: there will be an international patch (Mexican and Korean so far!), a rainbow vegetable plot, a medicinal herb bed, a smoothie and jams fruit cage and a greenhouse for more delicate plants and to start seedlings off.

In the afternoon pupils used a plan of the demonstration gardens and collaborated to decide which plants to put where: the fruit cages will be along the Victoria St wall to the north, the fruit trees will be along the east wall, the green house will be in the sunny north-west plot, with the other beds being more towards the middle and in the shadier south end there will be the tool store and the compost.

At the end of the day pupils were more excited than ever before and we are very much looking forward to our next trip to the Park in on Friday 30th November to continue preparing the ground for planting and to plant some fruit trees. 


Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 4 – Monday 3rd December 2018

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, once again Hermitage Academy pupils made their monthly trip to Hermitage Park to work on our Community Kitchen Garden. Our original plan for the trip was for Friday 30th November but, due to inclement weather, it was postponed until the following Monday and boy was that the right decision. It may have been rather cold but the sun was splitting the skies and that made our gardening tasks all the more enjoyable! Max from Wigwam Digital, working alongside the Heritage Lottery Fund, joined us along with a young videographer, Dominic, to see for themselves the benefits of our project and they were very impressed. They are visiting 2 other Scottish projects funded by the National Lottery for the Year of Young People 2018 and will be creating a promotional video to show how National Lottery money is benefitting local communities. We look forward to seeing the finished result!

Here is what one of the pupils wrote about our trip:

I went to Hermitage Park on the 3 of December and we did a, lot of digging and a lot of lifting stones, off the ground and put it in a hole in the ground to fill it up and we pout top soil on top so we can grow grass and veg in it. 


This month we had several tasks and pupils did one task in the morning and another after lunch. Before getting stuck in, pupils got the opportunity to see the site and how their plans from last month’s planning session will fit in in real life. A pile of compost had been delivered (from the food waste bins that we all produce at home) and, as there is no vehicular access to the demonstration gardens, one group used spades and wheelbarrows to transport it to one of our plots. Unfortunately there was so much we didn’t even get halfway through it so that has been left for another community group to finish off. The three other plots we shall be using were picked of litter and large stones in preparation for planting. Another group of pupils helped build a platform that will go out into the dipping pond once it is finished. They used a measuring tape to measure the planks and then a saw to cut them to size. Finally they used an electric drill and some screws to fit them together.

As well as practising cooperation, problem solving & communication skills, pupils learned how to skim compost off soil, to avoid overloading a wheelbarrow and to push it along without letting it tip over. Very importantly they learned to handle tools safely, including a saw and an electric drill, and also how to store them safely when finished with them. Everyone really enjoyed the experience, got plenty of exercise and we are all looking forward to our next trip on Thu 31st January 2019, weather permitting!


14th January 2019 - Update

The promotional video has now been finished and looks really good. Judge for yourselves!  https://drive.google.com/open?id=18yDOuFyHfKw5Lr5KXEm8LCt9WFKK_WS0


Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 5 – Thursday 31st January 2019

An overnight low of -5 degrees C meant we were unable to plant as planned, so we pruned back the Grant St entrance hedges to encourage fresh new growth. Pupils used saws, loppers and secateurs to prune the hedges, while keeping the pathway clear for the public to use by carting the cuttings away to the other side of the park in wheelbarrows. Passers-by made many positive comments about all the great work pupils were doing - well done everyone! And it was all thanks to funding from the National Lottery!

Hereis what some of the pupils had to say:

At Hermitage Park today I trimmed a hedge and moved all of the branches. We used a variety of instruments including hacksaws and loppers. I learned the technique for trimming the tree and how to efficiently use the saw. We also practised skills like communication and teamwork. I enjoyed learning the new skills.


Today we went to Hermitage Park we trimmed a large hedge and moved branches from the hedge to the gardens to be burned and used as fertiliser. Skills I learned how to use a pair of loppers and how to trim a bush. I enjoyed hermitage park



Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 6 – Wednesday 27th March 2019

Due to inclement weather, February's trip was cancelled but the weather was kinder to us in March. Pupils were taught by a horticultural expert how to plant soft fruit bushes and potatoes properly: measuring out distances, re-using the turf and soil appropriately with the addition of compost and fertiliser. Even the teachers felt inspired to go home and try out their newly-learned techniques in their own gardens! The kitchen garden is finally starting to take shape and looking good! And it's all thanks to funding from the National Lottery.

Here is what some of the pupils wrote about the trip:

On Wednesday the 27th of March we went to Hermitage Park to and planted blackcurrants and potatoes. I learned the skills of using a fork and to remove sods. Skills I used were teamwork, cooperation and timekeeping. Over all I think the trip to Hermitage Park was an amazing trip.



We were planting fruit bushes and potatoes using compost and fish, blood and bones. We worked together to plant these bushes and potatoes at Hermitage Park. I learned team work, communication and these are skills I used communication, teamwork and cleaning. Me and my partner did a perfect square hole I really enjoyed doing this it was fun and good for doing with people you don’t know and people you do know.



Whilst we were at Hermitage Park we planted potatoes and blackcurrants. I learned how to plant potatoes and correctly cover them whilst others learned to plant blackcurrant bushes. We used co-operation and co-ordination to dig and plant the potatoes. It was extremely fun and I would definitely do it again.






Today I went to Hermitage Park we planted Potatoes and fruit trees I learned there are many ways to plant potatoes I used the skills: Teamwork,  Cooperation, Communication, Digging, Forking. I enjoyed my day out



Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 7 – Wednesday 24th April 2019

The plan had been to work on constructing the greenhouse but unfortunately this was not possible, so one group of pupils set to work weeding the flower beds by the sun dial and replanting box bushes that had been ripped out by vandals. The other group used cement and brute strength to position and install a reclaimed telegraph pole that will house a solar panel which, in turn, will power a bird camera for community use, an exciting addition to an already fabulous park. Pupils even took it upon themselves to start cleaning graffiti off some areas of the park. Well done to all involved and it's all thanks to funding from the National Lottery.

Here is what some of the pupils said about the trip:

Today we went to Hermitage Park, and planted some box bushes I learned how to plant them into the ground correctly. Used teamwork to lift up the wood. It was a fun trip and would do it again.


Shahzaib’s super awesome garden adventure pt. 4 yayy

Me and the lads went to hermitage park today to do some gardening tasks. We were given the daunting task of planting box hedges or Buxus sempervirens around a patch where we would plant. We used mapping skills to identify how much space to put between each plant. We also used our muscles to dig up the ground. I think it was very fun and a workout!


We went to Hermitage Park, we put in a telephone pole in a pit near a tree which had cameras in it to look at the birds and there would be a solar panel to power the cameras we also cleared some of the dirt from a bit where we were planting little hedges. I learned how to carry a wood pole easier I also planted tings learned how to make concert. I enjoyed the trip very much and would happily go on another one.



Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 8 – Thursday 20th June 2019

May's trip was cancelled so we decided to do two trips in June instead. This was the first trip and our pupils were taught by our resident horticultural expert the proper way to plant strawberries and broad beans as well as how to sow nasturtium, honesty and poppy seeds. This was to enable our pupils to share this learning with some pupils from Hermitage Primary on our next trip. Pupils learned how to prepare the ground, construct bamboo tepees to support the broad beans and how to prepare the seed trays and modules to best support the growth of seeds. Melissa also taught us all about soil and its importance for our survival, as well as the different parts of a seed and the fragility of the seed in its initial stages of growth.

Again, this is all thanks to funding from the National Lottery and here is what some of the pupils had to say:

Today I went on the eco schools trip to Hermitage park. Firstly we planted strawberries and we had to make sure they were equally spaced and that they were level at the top of the soil. We had nine strawberry plants per row and we helped plant four rows. John helped us till we knew what to do. Next we had a short lunch break before getting back to work. After our lunch, we planted seeds. The seeds we planted were Poppies, honesty and nasturtiums. We planted them in trays and modules. Melisa showed us how to do this.The weather was sunny and warm most of the time but we also got hit with a lot of rain. I enjoyed my trip to Hermitage park and I hope I get the chance to enjoy it all again


On the 20th June we went to hermitage park and learned how to plant and sow. When we got there we put are bags down and we got shown how to plant runner beans and learned to canes surrounding the runner beans. After that we planted strawberries we used a measuring stick to measure how far the plant were going to be and we did 5 rows of them. Then we had lunch it was good but the bad thing it was raining and since I didn’t check the weather forecast but it was great fun and I recommend it to other people and remember kids all ways check the weather forecast from Samantha.


Shahzaib’s super awesome garden adventure part 5 yayyyyyyy

Today we went to Hermitage park, in Helensburgh (again) to do some bean sowing and cleaning up. We worked in 3s to first of all loosen up some Helensburgh soil (the bad nutrient lacking soil jk) in a circular shape to plant the beans in and then added compost (the good stuff) into it and mixed it in, to make a mega fusion of soil. Fluffy, light and pretty mediocre. Great for planting beans! We also tidied up the side of the grass covered in twigs and stuff and learned the true meaning of labour! We had to use our twig-like arms to lift up big piles of leaves and twigs to throw them into a giant pile AND THEN rake the ground to properly tidy it up! Knackering… but fun! I used my raking skills i learned from doing home gardening to properly rake the leaves. We also used our teamwork skills to efficiently plant the beans I learned how to plant beans. And also to not let people bury you in sand...up to knee height.I enjoyed it a lot! Maybe not the sand part...



Runner bean planting

After getting to the park and being given a demonstration we went into teams of three to plant runner beans we took a circle of soil roughly a meter wide and dug down overturning the soil and getting out plants, weeds and rocks. We put manure on the top using a wheelbarrow and over turned that to mix it with the soil. We spread it evenly and planted six 3 meter tall bamboo shoots in the ground. We then used our fingers to dig a hole for the beans placed them in and covered them.

Facts about soil

  • It has 7billion microorganisms in a small piece that is more than humans on the earth
  • It is a living being
  • It requires nutrients to grow plants and growing multiple plants on one patch of soil without replacing the nutrients kills the soil
  • The Latin for soil is soli
  • It takes 500 years make a cm of topsoil the best soil for growing plants

Afternoon raking

In the afternoon I worked with a team to rake and barrow lots of sticks leaves and other burnable waste to a pile for burning at the November bonfire night I rake the burnable waste into piles for others to pick up and put in barrows to go to the pile.


I had a really good time gardening with my friends we worked well together and learned skills like raking, planting, soil care and tying knots.



Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2018-19 – Trip 9 – Tuesday 25th June 2019

We were blessed with perfect gardening weather for our final trip of the academic year: warm, dry and slightly overcast. Our pupils arrived early to get set up, ready to welcome the Hermitage Primary pupils. They set up the marquee and table, prepared the ground for planting and set up half of the support frame for the peas, including cutting up the bamboo canes freshly sourced from the park. When the P6 gardening group arrived, our pupils explained the importance of soil, showed the younger ones how to create the bamboo framework and plant the peas and then assisted them in doing so. Once everyone had had a turn, more of our pupils demonstrated how to sow nasturtium and carrot seeds before assisting the helping Primary pupils have a turn. Thanks to funding from the National Lottery, everyone had fun and learned lots!

Here are some comments from our pupils:

Bean planting and teaching  

When we got to hermitage park we were shown how to plant normal beans we then showed the primary school children how to do it and taught them some facts To plant the beans you must first place a line of manure and overturn it with the dirt we then placed another on top and flattened it after flattening it we took two bamboo shoots and placed them in the soil on either side of the line we took the tops and tied them together with a line of twine creating a triangle shape we did this along the line placing long bamboo shoots on top to keep them in line. After this we used a short bamboo stick to create holes on either side of the bamboo shoots we placed the bean seeds inside and covered them ready for growing.

Onion planting 

After lunch when the primary school kids had left we planted onions we started by overturning the ground after this we took out all the weeds and used forks to flatten the ground we used two nails with a wire tied to the nails in a gardeners knot to create a line and used short small bamboo shuts to create a rut we placed the onion seedlings into the rut and covered them.


Today we went to Hermitage Park to help with the gardening. First we planted some beans and taught some pupils from hermitage primary how to do so. Afterwards we did some raking and cleared a pile of sticks and leaves. Then we learned how to plant onions using string to make sure it was in a straight line. We learned how to use the tools and pass on our knowledge. I enjoyed it a lot.




Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2019-20 – Trip 1 – Monday 28th October 2019

What a lovely autumn day for our first trip of the new school year! This time we were also joined by some of the new S1 and everyone worked hard and had fun raking up the beautiful fallen leaves into wheelbarrows and transporting them to the site for the new leaf compost bins that two of the park volunteers were building with us. In the meantime, Stewart, the Assistant Park Manager, took another group of pupils to level the site for the compost bin and to start preparing the border for it. The day was tiring but fun and it was all thanks to funding from the National Lottery.


Eco Schools Hermitage Park Project

2019-20 – Mental Health & Final Event Planning Workshops – Mondays 4th & 11th November 2019

Pupils spent 3 periods each day researching the benefits of gardening for mental and physical wellbeing and planning their final event. Pupils split into groups and each group took a separate aspect.

One group looked at what crops we had planted and decided what food to have at the event (a bonfire where potatoes and marshmallows can be roasted and bread can be toasted; pea and broad bean spread to have with the potatoes and toast (the original plan had been for soup but we decided that would be too difficult to transport); scones to have with our strawberry jam. They also made up a list of ingredients, utensils and other equipment that would be needed and approached the Home Economics department to ask if it would be possible to make the scones and jam for the final event. Unfortunately, jam cannot be made in school for health and safety reasons but we were allowed to make the scones on the morning of the final event so they would be nice and fresh!

Another group decided what activities to have on the day. They decided to conduct the community survey that day, have an information stall where we could display an overview of the project as well as our findings on the benefits if gardening for mental and physical wellbeing, hold a raffle with prizes donated from local businesses and teach visitors how to plant seeds. They then wrote a list of all the equipment that would be needed and decided who would bring or do what.

The research into the benefits of gardening for both mental and physical wellbeing was undertaken by another group who created a beautiful PowerPoint presentation to be shared with pupils at assembly and the local community at the final event.

The final two groups created surveys: one for pupils and one for the local community. The surveys had the purpose of discovering whether or not our work in Hermitage Park had made any difference to people's physical and mental wellbeing. Of the S1 and S2 pupils surveyed, most were fairly active and happy but not many visited the park and so they did not find our work had made any difference to their wellbeing. The community survey should have been conducted in the park but unfortunately it ended up being conducted in a local supermarket. Most respondents were fairly elderly, and the majority were female. They were mainly very healthy and active and all very happy with life. They were a lot more engaged with the park and nearly half felt our work had made a difference to their wellbeing.


Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2019-20 – Trip 2 – Monday 18th November 2019

This was to be our last gardening trip to the park before the end of our funding from the National Lottery and how lucky we were with the weather! We decided to contribute further to the local community by litter picking on the way there and back and some of the pupils were really competitive about this! When we arrived at the park, we were split into two groups: one group cleared another bed of debris and started levelling it, while the second group learned how to position, plant and tie up a young tree. Then after lunch, the two groups swapped tasks. There were bittersweet emotions as we returned to school that afternoon: the pupils were excited about the final event but also sad that this was the last gardening trip to Hermitage Park for the foreseeable future.


Eco Schools Trip to Hermitage Park

2019-20 – Trip 3 - Final Event – Monday 9th December 2019

Everything was ready: the Final Event had been advertised in the local community, the food had been bought, the prizes had been donated, the Toy Shop had even lent us some garden games for the event,  the bonfire was lit, the pupils were assembled ready for their instructions ... and then disaster struck! A large number of staff called in sick that morning and the trip had to be cancelled to ensure classes were not left sitting without teachers. We were all very upset and pupils had to just return to class. Unfortunately ,it was not possible to re-arrange for another date in the park, so an alternative plan was made ...


Eco Schools Hermitage Park Project

2019-20 – Alternative Final Event – Thursday 19th December 2019

Fortunately, Waitrose stepped in to save the day! We were unable to do our raffle or hold our information stall, but they did allow us to bag-pack instead and conduct our survey. At the start of the day pupils were given the opportunity to complete the Heritage Lottery Fund final evaluation survey and write a paragraph on their view of the whole project. Some pupils also went around the school at this point selling raffle tickets and then we went to Waitrose. Several customers commented on how helpful and polite our pupils were during the bag-pack and the girls doing the survey were excellent ambassadors for the school too. After Waitrose we had a celebratory event of our own where everyone who had ever been involved in the project was invited to come and share the food and drink bought for the original final event, we looked at the presentation on the project and reminisced about the fun we had had and we pulled the raffle, distributed the prizes and counted up the takings. Between the bag-pack and the raffle, we raised nearly £200!