A unique floating garden has started its tour of the Scottish canal network. The boat, which is a Dandelion programme, will travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh before resting in residence at The Kelpies from July to September.
Dandelion is a six-month creative celebration of growing, music and community, with sustainability at its heart. The initiative follows the arc of the growing season, from April to September 2022 – culminating with hundreds of Harvest events across Scotland.
It is an ambitious creative programme demonstrating the power of collective action through a major grow-your-own initiative of modern times. They are planting edible gardens in 13 locations across Scotland – transforming unused land and unexpected places into flourishing pockets of plant life. It's hoped the floating boat project will encourage Scots to ‘Sow, Grow and Share’ this summer. The Floating Garden is one of 13 ‘Unexpected Gardens’ created by Dandelion across the country in unusual spaces and is delivered in partnership with Scottish Canals.
The floating boat project is one of Dandelion’s most creative yet with its intricate multi-purpose and functional design for a garden. It’s comprised of three elements, firstly, a barge from Scottish Canals converted into a floating allotment, complete with a polytunnel, shed raised beds and three of Dandelion’s unique ‘cubes of perpetual light. These are 1x1m accelerated growing cube, which are a form of vertical farming whereby LED grow lights are used to boost growth in the plants.
The second element is a performance stage home to a huge flower puppet, the Flower Singer. The whole boat has been repurposed as a home for the incredible Dandelion Singers: Iona Fyfe and Evie Waddell. They will both perform harvest songs from different cultures in a variety of languages. The third element is a floating eco-garden drawing sustenance from the canal and in the process cleaning the water and feeding the plants.
The Floating Garden travelled through Scotland’s canals before reaching the Kelpies, making it accessible to many local communities. During the tour, the Floating Garden was joined by other vessels from the boating community decorated to create a flotilla of floating gardens that stopped at ten communities. Of course, a huge part of this unexpected garden is the produce that is growing directly from it. A variety of seasonal vegetables will be growing alongside pollinator-friendly flowers to attract insects to do their important work. There was also the opportunity to pick up free plants with hopes of local individuals growing food for the Harvest in the Autumn.
Dandelion partnered for the project with Falkirk Community Trust; Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals with Catherine Topley, CEO of Scottish Canals speaking about the project saying; “in a year when we are celebrating the bicentenary of The Union and Caledonian Canal, this event celebrates the vibrancy of our waterways, which are as important to Scotland today as they were when they were built 200 years ago, and Dandelion continues our tradition of welcoming fantastic events both to and next to the water.”
This Biomatrix Floating Ecosystem will also bring the canals and growing together as one. The aquatic plants growing on the raft reach down into the canal with their roots and draw up the water and nutrients they need to survive. Not only that, but they also help to clean the canal at the same time.