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College of Science & Engineering

College of Science & Engineering

News and stories from the College of Science & Engineering

King’s Buildings Permaculture Garden

Hello, my name is Oliver Nock, and I am writing to reveal the secret of the King’s Building’s community garden that you can be a part of!

Now, as a humanities student who doesn’t frequent the Kings Buildings, it is my perhaps unqualified observation that one may not describe the campus as a particularly green space. A fun little factoid though, which I cannot corroborate, is that there is a tree for every Scottish native species on the Kings Buildings campus, wonderful if it is in fact true, but then again it is a shame that these trees would have compete for space with some of the more Orwellian labyrinthine obelisks that Edinburgh offers – I’m looking at you JCMB! Yet there is one particular green space which goes unnoticed. Hidden behind Murchison House is one patch of grass in which students can dig up themselves, plant what they wish, and be part of a growing student gardening community! This is the KB Permaculture Garden (KBPG) run by the Permaculture Gardening Society.

The King's Buildings Permaculture Garden Committee

The King’s Buildings Permaculture Garden Committee







Our amazing members and green fingered committee attend to and develop the KBPG, which has been slowly growing (actually yes, pun intended) over the last three years. With both help from the University and the Edinburgh gardening community, the KBPG was founded with the intent purpose of demonstrating to the student community how easy and just how much fun it is to grow your own food. It has been just under a year since I joined the society but in this short period, I have had a most wonderful time, growing vegetables, digging holes, doing amateur joinery, and exploring the green spaces of Edinburgh.

a student in a pond

A student working in the pond

What is permaculture?

Permaculture is a design method that creates sustainable environments. However, every permaculturist has their own personal definition. I see it as a holistic method to create abundance and harmony in a system using nature as a guide – a “philosophy” which can be used in social or natural systems. If you would like to read more about it, I recommend Looby Macnamara’s book People and Permaculture which talks about different systems to which permaculture thinking can be applied. You can also access this Permaculture zine, a beautiful work some students did last year in the Future of Our University course. The zine was intended for curious people to get different perspectives on the subject; it provides a good resource to start delving into the subject. The Growing Perspective blog has a post on Permaculture defining its principles and what it is and was created by the Permaculture Community Classroom in Edinburgh.


Beets from the garden


Our progress and projects

Since joining the society in February, I have seen all sorts of produce growing in the garden from oyster mushrooms to Jerusalem artichokes and sweetcorn. The garden is an ever-evolving place where ideas from all students merge to produce a verdant sanctuary. It is our members who choose what they wish to grow.

In the late winter months, we collaborate outside of the University, borrowing a corner of the Scotland’s Rural College’s (SRUC) glasshouse to sow the seeds. The beds in which they are then planted are the result of some of our larger construction projects. Every Saturday afternoon during spring 2023 we would serenade the campus with the sawing of wooden pallets and hammering of nails to produce our three terrace beds and herb rockery. None of these projects would be possible without our amazing members and friends from the Edinburgh gardening community – along with multiple tea breaks!

Image of newts in a basin

Newts from the pond








As a society we aren’t just bound to Kings’ Buildings, we take our community on trips around the city to explore Edinburgh’s green corners, whether it is to learn permaculture practices in experts’ own gardens or to have a relaxing hike and swim in the Pentlands after a long exam season!

For a fairly urbanised area, I have been often surprised with the biodiversity of the KBPG, our pond is home to frogs and alpine newts (as identified from our newt survey with Wildlife Society in association with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation trust) and the trees are home to squirrels, longtail tits and an angry little wren, to name just a few.

Students building a raised bed

Students building a raised growing bed

Why garden?

For me, I hold this society and garden in the highest regard as it has had the most positive impact on me in a stressful time, it is a place where you can meet lovely people and switch off from the sometimes-unrelenting burdens of university life. There is no remedy like connecting with nature and having a positive long-term project. The King’s Building Permaculture Garden is truly wonderful place of escapism from the noise and stress of the city where you can slow down and attend to life.

We really wish to pass some of that joy onto more students who may wish to get their hands dirty and who wish to learn more about the environmental practices that we employ. Every Saturday from 12am (weather dependent) we will be working on our garden, and as we move into spring it is soon going to be a very exciting place of colour and life, so please pop by to say hello – we may still have some biscuits left for you!

Follow us on Instagram for regular updates on upcoming events and forthcoming projects  or join our WhatsApp group chat

We look forward to meeting you soon!

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