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Sir John Square, Thurso - Community Takeover

30th June 2020

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Photograph of Sir John Square, Thurso - Community Takeover

This year, due to lock down, Highland Council have been unable to plant the usual, beautiful floral displays in Sir Johns Square, Thurso. With permission from the council Thurso Grows, a project run by Thurso Community Development Trust, has taken over Sir John Square this year to plant a vegetable garden and create a collective community art work installation.

For one year only, rather than having this prominent area become overgrown and weedy, Thurso Grows, with the help of an amazing team of volunteers, are planting vegetables and salads and creating a "painted stone rainbow" that will bring colour and focus to the square.

The Thurso Grows team are asking for local people to get involved with painted stones to supply a burst of colour in the Square. All food grown will be given to local community, the project has been well supported by local people, including a donation of vegetable plants from Westlea Plants in Lybster.

Vegetables may not be everyone's idea of beauty but this project is happening for a very real reason. Concerns about climate change and its impact on all our lives greatly influence the importance of promoting locally grown, seasonal food that has a small carbon footprint. The price of food is has risen since the start of lockdown, supermarkets are offering fewer special offers and cheaper options are often sold out quickly. 27% of the Highlands workforce on Furlough and losing 20% of their income. Caithness and Sutherland already had one of the highest rates of unemployment in the highland region and with furlough coming to an end there are concerns about how this will increase. The Highland Council being the worst hit per head of population in the UK from the crisis and food poverty before all this already standing at around 10% of the population.

Sharon Dismore, project co-ordinator said "We are a very passionate about growing and promoting local food, this is more important this year than ever. If it wasn't for the amazing volunteers who have helped weed and prepare the square, none of this would be possible. Now we are calling out for our community, young and old to help us decorate the square with painted stones".

The team of volunteers have weeded and prepared Sir John Square. They have also taken over the town planters which have been filled with bedding plants, donated by the community and including a large contribution from WD Ross. Further the volunteers have weeded several areas of the town which the council have not been able to maintain this year.

The produce grown at Sir John Square and Thurso Community Garden will be available at the first of a series of pop-up stalls in Sir John Square on 4th July and 11th July where along with vegetable plants for your own garden, people can also get free, local, fresh food. Thurso Grows will also be available to chat to anyone who is interested in the project.

This project is able to do this work thanks to funding by Climate Challenge Fund. Donations for the harvested vegetables are welcome but not expected and will be invested back in community aid. Check out Thurso Grows Facebook page for updates on other upcoming food events and plant giveaways.

Thurso Community Development Trust are also offering stone painting packs and asking the community to paint a stones in a colour of the rainbow to make a stone rainbow for Sir Johns Square. These are available at