A little bit of an eco friendly paradise ...

Rhona Lyon, communications manager and Alison Crook, development manager at the wildlife pond at the new Ecology Centre due to open at the end of August 2015
Rhona Lyon, communications manager and Alison Crook, development manager at the wildlife pond at the new Ecology Centre due to open at the end of August 2015

The new Ecology Centre on the banks of Kinghorn Loch is taking shape, with the sedum “growing” roof being added as you read this.

And the final stage of the building process will bring to an end ten long years of searching, planning, fundraising and grafting to create a purpose-built, environmentally friendly place which its staff and volunteers hope will become a true community hub, involving as many local residents as possible.

We can’t wait to get back in now and get everyone back on the one site

But, they stress, the completion of the fabric of the building will just be the start of the centre’s new life, with a whole load of spadework still to be undertaken to plant, cultivate and develop the new site into a little slice of eco paradise where people can visit to get away from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy the great outdoors as it was meant to be – unspoiled and in its natural state.

The single-storey building is being constructed to all the latest eco-friendly specifications, using natural materials, cladding and heating principles to use as little electricity as possible.

It has been built using sustainable wood with wool insulation and a sedum roof which will blend into its surroundings and look like a natural part of the landscape.

And its adjacent workshops for the many volunteers who use the centre on a daily basis to expand their skills, learn new ones or simply to meet with like-minded souls in a beautiful environment, have all been constructed from recycled shipping containers.

Even the adjacent toilet aptly nicknamed the “Loo with a View” because of its stunning views out over Kinghorn Loch, is eco friendly. The quirky timber-framed building is finished off with roof tiles and slates and houses a composting toilet which provides facilities on site without the need for a water supply.

The area in front of the loo was seeded with wildflowers by a group of young volunteers who were part of the centre’s Grow Wild project.

Since work on the new centre began on site in April, with the erection of the timber frame, work has continued around the five-acre site to prepare the land for its new home.

The Tool Shed volunteer project which sees members refurbish old garden tools and machinery for use both locally and in overseas initiatives, managed to continue on site in the refurbished shipping containers, and volunteers helped out with painting and other works.

In recent months designated cinder block paths linking the new centre to existing paths leading down into the village and on up to Craigencalt Fairm have been laid, and large raised planters for flowers, fruits and vegetables, polytunnels for larger growing areas and a natural pond to allow the centre to continue its popular pond-dipping education sessions have also been added through the hard work of volunteers from both the centre itself and young trainees on programmes such as Project Scotland and Community Jobs Scotland.

The volunteers have also planted willow hedging which will act as a natural barrier from the elements and can also be used in craft classes.

Rhona Lyon, communications manager at the centre, said: “We couldn’t have done this without all our valued volunteers who have been amazing.

“We can’t wait to get back in now and get everyone back on the one site and working together to build on what we had before and enhance it.

“We will be able to build up volunteering opportunities and our education programme for local schools and other groups and the future is looking very exciting, although there will be a lot of hard work involved.”

Alison Crook, development manager added: “People have been very interested in seeing what has been going on and we want to encourage them to come on board and become a part of the new centre’s life.

“The focus for the staff will now be to add their individual stamp to it.

“We are embarking on quite a creative stage now that the basic structure is in place.”