TRUSTEES ANNUAL REPORT
to end March 2023
TRUSTEES ANNUAL REPORT
The trustees present their annual report and financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2022.
The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the accounting policies set out in note 1 to the financial statements and comply with the charity’s constitution, the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 (as amended) and “Accounting and Reporting by Charities: Statement of Recommended Practice applicable to charities preparing their accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) (effective 1 January 2019)”.
Objectives and activities
The charity’s objectives are to promote the advancement of education by training people to produce food in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. In addition, our activities can reasonably be expected to also promote the relief of poverty, specifically household food insecurity, through the development of skills, including but not restricted to, food growing, preservation and cooking. Environmental protection and improvement by, for example, teaching the benefits of wildlife to food production and by creating healthy soil ecosystems. The charity promotes the use of land for recreational purposes by, for example, the creation of community gardens and other growing spaces.
The trustees have paid due regard to guidance issued by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator in deciding what activities the charity should undertake.
The Trustees continue to meet regularly, with meetings held in person and on-line. The Board of Trustees is Chaired by Dr Nancy Woodhead, and it was with great sadness that we had to report on the death of her husband, and Abundant Borders Co-Founder, Graham Bell. Graham died in March 2023 after a short illness. He will be missed but we will continue his legacy at Abundant Borders in the work we do to spread the message of permaculture – Earth Care, People Care and Fair Shares for all.
This accounting period saw several changes to staff. Cordelia McGurk left the role of Volunteer Coordinator, to be replaced by Hannah Bell. Pauline Stewart left her position as Project Worker for the Duns Community Garden, being replaced by Claire Pencak. Co-Founder and former Joint Chief Officer Annie Casey retired at the end of February.
Community Food Growing
The Community Garden in Eyemouth continues to thrive, with the installation of a polycarbonate tunnel to provide indoor growing space and room for volunteers to relax should the weather be unfit for outside work. The tunnel was opened during a Harvest Festival event, with singing, music, storytelling, willow weaving, clothes swap, produce show and apple pressing. The garden hosted two tree grafting courses and is now the site of a fruit tree nursery, growing heritage and north hardy tress for community gardens and community orchard projects. A small orchard was created, with support from the Tree Council, and a willow nursery contains four varieties of willow, specially selected for willow weaving and other craft projects. A compost toilet has been installed, making the site, which is some 2 miles from the nearest public toilet, more volunteer friendly. A log burning stove was installed, making it possible to run outdoor cooking sessions in the garden.
The Community Garden in Duns was again open as part of Scotland’s Open Gardens Scheme, welcoming over 50 visitors. The outdoor pavilion was completed and a polytunnel installed, providing an indoor growing space and shelter for volunteers. The garden is also a training base for pupils from nearby Berwickshire High School, with Abundant Borders teaching National Progression Awards in Horticulture to three pupils and Grow and Learn Awards from the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society to two more. The harvest festival featured plant swap, storytelling, film showing, apple pressing and climate conversations.
The Community Garden in Kelso was opened during late spring/summer 2022, with 100 pupils from Kelso High School creating designs for what they would like to see in the garden, including an orchard, wildlife areas, seating, and plants for pollinators. These ideas have been incorporated into the garden design, which also includes natural hedging and vegetable beds. The school project culminated in an exhibition of the pupils work and a garden open day event, with film showings, climate conversations and climate themed activities. We were successful in getting funding from local group, Charity Begins at Home, and the garden now has a range of tools and activities for pre-school children, including a mud kitchen.
The smaller gardens at Ayton, Foulden and Hawick continue to thrive, with local volunteers ensuring that these community spaces play a key role in community life. In Hawick a refurbishment saw a new door decorated with images designed by local primary school pupils welcoming visitors at the High Street entrance and a mural painted, again based on the children’s designs, brightening up one of the high walls in the garden. In Ayton the garden produce won several prizes at the Ayton Horticultural Show! While at Foulden the garden continues to support less mobile members of the community who find it difficult to get to the shops for fresh produce.
Finally, we continue to support the primary school at Cockburnspath, with raised beds as part of the community garden, growing produce that formed the basis of a harvest community meal.
We are active members of the Borders Community Food Growing network and have supported the creation of community gardens and growing projects throughout the entire Scottish Borders region.
Following a break during and Covid restrictions, cooking courses were restarted, with four courses in both Duns and Eyemouth. While the focus remains on cooking with fresh, local ingredients we have been adapting recipes to suit slow cooking methods to further support clients during the cost-of-living crisis.
Participants in the cooking courses can gain REHIS qualifications in Basic Cooking Skills and an Introduction to Food Hygiene, entry level qualifications for working in the food industry, food retail and hospitality.
The social lunches, delivered in partnership with local older-people charity BHABefriend, continued until August 2022. This project, and partnership, was a big success, with lunches held at most village halls/community centres across Berwickshire. The success was two-fold, firstly in encouraging people to return to a social setting post-Covid and secondly in community capacity building. Most communities have taken over the lunches themselves, offering meals to residents on a regular basis. Abundant Borders have continued to support community meals with produce from the community gardens, where possible, and by training volunteers and staff in food hygiene.
We also supplied picnics to residents in supported accommodation in Duns, Coldstream and Eyemouth, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
National and Regional Activities
We were, and remain, active members of the Scottish Food Coalition, lobbying at first to ensure that the Good Food Nation Bill was enacted and now to ensure that it delivers on the potential to transform the food system in Scotland.
Chief Officer Karen Birch sits on the Interim Steering Group of the emerging Borders Climate Action Network, which will work with individuals, groups and organisations to ensure a just transition to net zero. As part of the thematic approach to tackling climate change, Karen leads on local food production and food system change and is leading a team creating a Borders Good Food Partnership and registering the Borders as a Sustainable Food Place. Karen also co-created the document, now accepted across the region, to ensure that food banks, larders and warm hubs sign up to a Dignity in Food promise.
Karen now represents the Scottish Borders Social Enterprises on the South of Scotland Regional Economic Partnership, ensuring that the voice of the third sector is represented at local enterprise level.
Abundant Borders is a member of Scottish Community Climate Action Network, Poverty Alliance, Circular Communities Scotland and founder members of Grow Borders and the Berwickshire Alliance.
In the Duns Community Garden, supported by local charity Keeping Duns Blooming Marvellous, we have been taking three pupils through their NPA Horticulture Qualifications and teaching Grow and Learn Awards from the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society to two more. In addition to the learning experience, the boys have improved confidence, social skills and have taken part in landscaping activities, such as helping to build sheds and fruit cages. The success of this first year pilot has led to a request for a continuation of the teaching programmes with additional sessions for younger pupils to advance their volunteering skills.
We have delivered dedicated elementary or introduction to food hygiene training to four community groups and delivered our first commercial course to a local hotel. The food hygiene qualifications have been integrated into the cooking courses, adding further value to the cooking training. As a direct result, one participant went on to get her first job, working in the dining hall at a local school.
All gardens have hosted a series of workshops, including willow-weaving, tree-grafting, herbal first aid and seed saving. We are currently expanding the seed share / seed saving project with the intention of creating a Borders wide seed library.
Volunteers are supported by the project workers in each community garden, supported by a dedicated Volunteer Coordinator. This has allowed us to increase the number of volunteers in each garden and to improve the volunteer experience. Evaluation is carried out in line with Evaluation Scotland guidelines and the outcome reporting required by specific funders. It is important that each garden is seen as belonging to the community and run for and by the community, supported by Abundant Borders. We are upskilling volunteers so that lead volunteers can take over management of the garden and that they are vibrant, active, inclusive spaces beyond the times staff are there to support volunteering sessions. Foulden and Ayton gardens are now able to operate with minimal support and the Duns, Kelso, Hawick and Eyemouth gardens are now open to the community every day. In Duns, for example, the local WalkIt group regularly use the garden as a place for refreshments during their longer walks and in Eyemouth the space has been used for community meetings.
In the Loving Our Volunteers Awards, Ayton volunteer Rhonda Noble was announced as Volunteer of the Year in the Hidden Assets category while Peter Guthrie was highly commended for his volunteering efforts in Eyemouth.
All gardens have hosted sessions with young people working towards their Saltire Award for volunteering excellence.
At the start of 2023 we started a newsletter to update members, volunteers and the wider community to activities and events across the gardens. This is in addition to our high and growing social media profile, e.g., facebook.com/abundantborders
March 2022 saw the start of a second round of funding support from both the National Lottery Community Fund and the Robertson Trust. This was year one of the second three-year funding cycle from both organisations, and is testament to the success of Abundant Borders in delivering positive outcomes for our communities.
We also attracted funding from Scottish Borders Council, Dandelion and Impact Funding Partners for a range of project work over the period. We received income from consultancy, delivering cooking courses and food growing support to other social enterprises and are grateful for the donations received from supporters and once again, from the Tomms Family Trust. We also received a significant donation from sales of the poetry book written by local poet John Cobb.
The organisation remains in a stable financial position going into the financial year 2023-24. The only additional amount of expenditure that will be incurred going forward is rental of office space in Eyemouth Harbour Buildings. This cost is being met from reserves.
In considering the operations, achievements, performance and finances of the charity, the trustees are satisfied that public benefit has been provided in accordance with the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and guidance provided by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
Structure, governance and management The charity is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, registered with OSCR, Charity No. SC049008.
Accounts to end March 2023 can be viewed here
Accounts to end March 2022 can be viewed here
Accounts to end March 2021 can be viewed here
Accounts to end March 2020 can be viewed here
Accounts to end January 2019 can be viewed here.
Please note: Accounts were complied for the period April 2018 to January 2019. At this point Abundant Borders SCO46962 converted to SCIO SCO49008
Accounts to end March 2018 can be viewed here.