Plans for new teaching facilities gather pace at St Andrews' Botanic Garden

St Andrews Botanic Garden this week unveiled plans to create new spaces for education, research and community in the heart of the Garden.

By John A. MacInnes
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 2:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 4th December 2021, 10:37 am

The plans include converting the existing Potting Sheds from workshops into spaces for education and research, creating new loos that are accessible to all, creating new workshops for gardeners and a huge green roof with specialist alpine plants.

St Andrews Botanic Garden has reduced its carbon emissions by over 90% in the past year, and this makes a significant contribution to the University’s aims to achieve net zero as soon as possible.

This project shows how partnership working and new ways of working can make a huge difference to our work on climate change.

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The facilities will allow users to teach and learn in a new way by holding classes in the garden and then to follow up inside purpose-built buildings with time for reflection, maximising the use of the Garden as a place for learning.

The new classrooms will be available for use by community groups and schools across Fife and Tayside, as well as for sessions led by the venue.

St Andrews Botanic Garden undertakes a wide range of activities to support the community and at the moment focuses on vulnerable adults and young families.

Examples of this work include partnerships with Options in Life and the Sensory Trust, whose groups regularly visit the Garden to enjoy being in nature and learn gardening skills.

These developments will enable the Trust to build on this work and provide the warm, dry and safe spaces that these groups desperately need, with beautiful views into the Garden.

By including purpose-built spaces for learning, the Trust will also be able to develop support for school leavers who want to develop skills and careers in landscape management and horticulture through training programmes and internships in the Garden.

St Andrews Botanic Garden has been holding workshops, guided walks and other consultations throughout summer and autumn 2021 so that we can make the most effective use of the Garden for the community.

There were a huge number of responses, demonstrating the passion felt for the Garden and a common theme that emerged was the importance of warm, indoor space to hold teaching events in – at the moment, the only facilities are a converted glasshouse which gets very warm in the summer and cold in the winter due to the poor insulation.

Cllr Jane Ann Liston said: “The Botanic Garden is without doubt the green jewel in the heart of St Andrews, kept shining by the hard-working staff.

"The improvements are an opportunity for St Andrews residents to make more use of their unique and beautiful asset on the edge of the town centre. I hope that many of them will take the chance to do so.”

A spokesperson for the University of St Andrews said: “We welcome these ambitious plans to create new spaces for education, research and community at the Botanic Garden.

"This project shows how partnership working can benefit all those who value this precious community asset in the heart of our community.”

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