A CONTAMINATED former railway station yard has now been transformed into a 'super rich' area for wildlife.

The award-winning Organic Growers of Fairlie group is continuing to expand, with exciting future plans for their sustainable community garden.

With the capacity to grow vegetables and fruit outside and inside the polytunnels, the Organic Growers hold regular workshops and events.

Since opening in 2007, the land has been transformed into a vibrant haven for wildlife and has proved popular with school groups.

Secretary Nancy McQueen said: "This is now a super rich area for wildlife and a sheltered quiet spot for those wishing the tranquility and peace that a woodland can offer.

"We are blessed with a multitude of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.

"There are also many sightings of voles, frogs, bats and hedgehogs, which all benefit from the natural environment created by sustainably planting for people with the environment in mind. These are a multitude of natural pest controllers.

"This environment has been a labour of love for enthusiastic gardeners and volunteers - and now we are reaping the rewards of all that hard work."

The previously derelict site was once a train yard for Fairlie Pier Railway Station, connecting the harbour as people travelled o enjoy steamer trips to Arran.

When taking over the land 14 years ago, there were contaminants found in the soil, while one third of the three acre site was riddled with Japanese Knotweed.

Nancy explained: "We were instructed not to walk on the soil and were not able to grow anything edible in it either.

"It was necessary to grow in raised beds and make our own compost or buy it in. The whole site was covered in wood chip, donated by tree surgeons, and it quickly composted into good soil of a great depth.

"The site was cleared of Japanese Knotweed mainly by persistent and careful hand removal."

Nancy says the impact of grant support from Scottish National Heritage and Hunterston Power Station, who often pledged from their climate challenge fund, has been crucial.

She said: "Local children planted many native trees we received from the Woodland Trust along the garden edges and wood chip was put down to create a nature trail along the perimeters.

"A shelter belt of native trees was planted at the front of the garden. We now have a small woodland we are developing which contains a tree nursery.

"It was here we released adopted hedgehogs from a wildlife rescue centre.

"Young gardeners are being mentored in composting and maintaining wormeries as well as other gardening and environmental skills. The funding we have had has made all of these improvements possible."

Groups of youngsters have strived to achieve the John Muir Award at the hub in Pier Road.

The efforts of the volunteers has also spilled out to help the wider community. They have pitched in with projects at Fairlie Railway Station's garden, created two small picnic areas and a green space in the village where soft fruits, apple trees and mint are all grown for community use.

Nancy added: "The biggest challenge in 2021 for gardeners was three months of hot weather without rain.

"The tiny wildflower seedlings in boxes needed constant watering to thrive, which volunteers did regularly.

"In the future we would like to work with the council to have dedicated wood ‘bee boxes’ filled with compost for growing wildflowers in areas in the village where ground planting isn’t possible. We would also like to help the primary school with a dedicated area for wildflowers.

"We’ve come a long way in 14 years, and we have ambitions to do much."