What a great day, 9 June! Yet another successful Open Farm Sunday at the Hutton Dundee. Crowds of visitors enjoying themselves in sunny weather. The Living Field garden did its bit as before – exhibits on barley and legumes in the polytunnel, potato varieties in the west garden and further science exhibits in the cabins.
Our friends from Dundee Astronomical Society were here again showing people round the new observatory and explaining about the sun, moon and noctilucent clouds. And this year we were helped for the first time by a workshop on cyanotype imagery run by Kit Martin.
The centrepiece was the new Vegetable Map of Scotland, shown top left and centre in the panel above. For more on how it was made, see Vegetable map made real. The map occasioned much comment and wonder that the country was already growing such a wide range of vegetables and could grow much more of its own.
The two posters located next to the Vegetable map are available to view or download here.
The Vegetable Posters
One of the posters – The Vegetable Products of Scotland – explained the background to the original Vegetable map which was first shown at Can we grow more vegetables? The poster is reproduced below as a low resolution jpg image. It is also available as a pdf file printable up to A3 size.
The other poster – Vegetables in the Living Field garden – showed many of the vegetables typically grown in the garden, grouped into leaves, fleshy fruits, roots and seeds. More on the plants can be seen at the garden pages under Vegetables. This poster is also reproduced as a jpeg below and available as a pdf.
June 2019 and the various projects based in and around the Living Field are starting to bear. The Farm flew its drone on 5 June to get a photograph of the Vegetable Map of Scotland and at the same time took in the whole of the garden.
The garden was designed so that some parts would remain fixed – the habitats – and other parts would change as new ideas and projects replaced older ones. The fixed parts in the image below are mostly in the right hand (east) section – the meadow, the trees, the hedges and the small pond and ditch, which is just not visible behind the lower hedge.
The plots to the north east just inside the hedges have held a small collection of medicinal and dye plants for several years and so are also almost fixed.
The Vegetable Map in the lower right quadrant is placed on the site of the previous arable plot which has grown cereals, roots, vegetables and various legumes for well over ten years, but we decided this year to turn it into something different. The image of the map below has been turned round, with north to the right.
The intention is to keep the shape of the map over time but change the cultivated plants that are being inserted into the fertile regions of the country. This year peas, potato and assorted vegetables will be grown.
The west garden is split into four plots. The top left one (north west) holds a polytunnel, used for activities when it is raining.
The top right is a exhibition area in which raised beds have been built. A few years ago they were used to contain the forage legume collection (e.g. lucerne, milk vetch, tufted vetch, kidney vetch). After that we had a varied display of vegetables and herbs and now in 2019 they are mainly occupied by the Barley Timeline, an assortment of barley landraces and varieties grown since the 1800s. There are still some herbs retained in the centre bed.
The third quadrant, south east, is down to mown grass, a space for various activities. It becomes a picnic area on open days. It also houses Dundee Astronomical Society’s observatory.
The fourth, in the south west, has had a range of plants grown in it, recently annual mixed ‘grass’ consisting of both traditional grass and broadleaf plants, and now this year a collection of potato varieties, many developed at the Institute.
The Living Field community
While the overall garden and its activities are managed by a small group, a wide range of people have been involved since first the ground was drained and levelled in 2004 – see The Making.
The Farm staff do all the hedge cutting and soil cultivation and this year the carting of rocks and laying of turf for the Vegetable Map. The Workshop make the signs, prepare the corn grinder and do whatever needs fixing. Horticulture and glasshouse colleagues help to pot and raise the thousands of plants that go out each year. Science staff, mainly from Ecological Sciences, provide the knowledge of plants, their functions and how to grow them.
What may be surprising is that very little (if any) of the contributions are formally costed. There are no project specs to adhere to. Quite a bit of the effort is given voluntarily, out of hours. This genuine community is what makes the Living Field work.
Since its publication on these pages in 2017 the Vegetable Map of Scotland  has attracted much interest. There is a growing awareness of the benefits of local, nutritious food – especially if bought from short supply chains that use the least possible carbon.
People want to know where their food comes from, how much is imported and how much grown locally and whether the country can grow more of its food within or near its borders.
These questions are asked especially of vegetables, including pulses and potato, because they are (or should be) mostly eaten very fresh, such as leaf, or else, like carrot and swede, kept not too long on the shelf before being cooked.
With this background of interest, the Vegetable Map was constructed by researchers at the Institute as part of joint interests with Nourish Scotland . The group interrogated EU databases provided by the Scottish Government  to locate the fields in which the various vegetables and soft fruits were grown.
An example of part of the region is shown above. The Map remained available through this web site, then in late 2018, ideas began to form about making the map real – complete with vegetables – and it would be constructed in the Living Field garden .
Time went by. Ground was weeded, cleared and cultivated – a rare barrenness in the otherwise plant-rich garden. Then gradually, over the winter, tectonic plates shifted.
People began to wonder about the strange earthworks dotted with rocks that appeared in the plot. Was the garden being visited at night by strange forces or was the Living Field community finally just losing it? Rumours were rife.
More time went by. Turf was laid in a great rectangle over the whole patch, but people were still unclear of what it was all for …. and what lay underneath.
The turf rooted and formed a fine carpet. But what were the rocks? A ritual landscape? Tayside’s answer to the Ring of Brodgar?
Then one day in late spring 2019 an outline was traced and the turf was cut to reveal the unmistakable shape of ….. Scotland ….. its indented coast now clear and the land inside complete with hills and mountains.
All well so far ……. a map of the country covered in grass and rocks …… nothing new there. But then in May, holes were cut in the turf and plants put in the holes: and you’ll guess what plants – Yes, vegetables.
And that is where we are at the beginning of June 2019. The Farm’s drone was flown to photograph the Living Field garden from the air on 5 June. The image of the map appears below.
Different types of vegetable are being planted in the parts of the country where they are typically grown. It is possible to see the early plantings to the right of the image. The brown holes in the turf are where circles have been cut in readiness for later plantings. (The ‘corners’ and lower border are spare turf in case of need.)
Planting will continue well into the summer. There will be some surprises which we shall show later.
For now, you can read more about the history of vegetable growing at the original page . photographs of the construction will follow – link to be provided. And there will be more articles on what can and can’t be grown in the soils and climates of our northern latitudes.
Living Field people will be on hand at Open Farm Sunday 9 June 2019 to explain more about the Vegetable Map of Scotland. See you there!
With apologies to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland, presently missing from the map but to be included.
 The original digital map was produced during work on the distribution of crops as part of the Scottish Government’s Strategic Research Programme.
 Gladys Wright had the idea of constructing the Vegetable Map in the Living Field garden and was soon offered enthusiastic help by The Farm. Together, and with other coopted helpers they measured out the grid, made the mountains (like Titans), laid and cut the turf and raised and planted the plants. A great effort by the Living Field community!