Forth Eco Project was judged to be outstanding at the latest Keep Scotland Beautiful awards.
“We were delighted when he saw that,” said Laura Gilchrist, the project’s manager.
Forth and District Initiative was given a neighbourhood award by Beautiful Scotland in 2008 not long after beginning the eco project, but after the opening of the village’s new primary school, the project had to start from scratch on a new site in Hailstonegreen.
The group is still in charge of it, and Clydesdale Community Initiatives has been given a two-year contract to manage it.
“Over the last 18 months, it has come on in leaps and bounds,” said Laura.
The eco-site, featuring community organic growing beds and a double poly-tunnel, generates its own power through solar panels and it harvests rainwater.
The community group primarily uses the site for growing organic vegetables and flowers for the street displays, helping Flourishing Forth win a silver gilt at this year’s Beautiful Scotland competition, as well as to hold workshops.
During 2015, members made natural pesticides, comfrey feed, traditional hazel hurdles and salves and balms from calendula-infused oil, and they also built compost bins.
The group also ventures out into the community and works on neglected flowerbeds and lifts litter.
It recently began conservation work in partnership with the Forestry Commission.
It runs a Saturday club for primary-age pupils, and those at the Haven Centre go along for gardening therapy. There are some 57 volunteers involved in Forth Eco Project, with a hard core of around 20.
“They put in so many hours it is unbelievable,” said Laura.
Over the last quarter, they carried out 1,500 hours of work, she said.
“We encourage them in for an hour or two, and they practically move in,” added Laura.
Rosebank Initiative Community Association was also judged outstanding in the It’s Your Neighbourhood campaign, run by Keep Scotland Beautiful and the Royal Horticultural Society.
“These awards are designed to celebrate community effort to improve local environments,” said Lindsay Montgomery, chairman of the board of charity Trustees for Keep Scotland Beautiful.
“From litter-picking to bulb-planting, all of these activities help to create vibrant communities, nurture respect for places and improve wellbeing.”