76. Beechbrae Polytunnel Part 1 of 3

This is the beginning of what turns out to be an epic journey involving many friends, lots of laughter, mud and eventually a functioning polytunnel at Beechbrae.

We had the polytunnel for a little while but were afraid to put it up due to vandalism we’d received. After 3 years of working in the community the time had come to get it ready for the springtime planting. We were joined by a group of lovely hard workers from the Nourish Food Leaders and beyond and got stuck in with weeds, rocks and surprisingly Pythagoras’ theorem.   Beechbrae Polytunnel 1 Beechbrae Polytunnel 2 Beechbrae Polytunnel 3 Beechbrae Polytunnel 4
We successfully got the base plates secured and hoops raised. Thanks to all who came and helped. Stay tuned for part 2 and part 3.

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75. Bank Of Scotland School for Social Entrepreneurs

We’re absolutely thrilled to announceAlly Beechbrae BOSSEPe that Ally has been accepted on to the Bank Of Scotland School for Social Entrepreneurs this year. She is one of 17 accepted in Scotland’s Programme and is thrilled to have this opportunity.

This programme will run from October 2015-16 with practical entrepreneurial, governance, and finance classes, expert witness sessions and action learning sets giving a solid foundation for growth in the future.BOSSEP- Beechbrae Ally


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74. Community Orchard and Party in the Park at Bathgate

Exciting developments happening in Bathgate this year- a community orchard is being planted with the support of Clementine Sandison and Helping Britain Blossom. As a way to publicise the orchard and get interested local volunteers there was a fruity stall at Bathgate’s Party in The Park with homemade pancakes with tasty jam, fruit races, a smoothie bike, bug hotels and stprytelling. It was a great event enjoyed by all- looking forward to seeing the orchard planting this winter!!Kirkton Park 041
Kirkton Park 027 Kirkton Park 037
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Kirkton Park 040 Kirkton Park 250 Kirkton Park 218Kirkton Park 060 Kirkton Park 182 Kirkton Park 254  Kirkton Park 241  Kirkton Park 015 Kirkton Park 012 Kirkton Park 160
all photos are courtesy of Helping Britain Blossom.

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73. People’s Postcode Lottery Grant

We are thrilled to announce that we are receiving funding from the People’s Post Code Lottery to transform Beechbrae Orchard into a haven of all sorts of exciting food & bio-diverse plants! Watch this space as we begin work!!Picture2Dual_PPL_LOGO_PPT

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72. Nourish Food Leaders

I (Ally) had the fantastic opportunity to be a part of Nourish Food Leaders Programme for a week in July hosted by Nourish Scotland in the beautiful setting of Comrie Croft. The week for me was intense and deeply nourishing as I was in a room full of #nourishfoodleaders who were people connected to food in Scotland in such a variety of inspiring ways. While it is quite hard to distil my whole week, I’d like to share a few words and photos from one particularly inspirational day for me- a visit to the Falkland Estate followed by a foraging walk, a feast of epic proportions and a traditional ceilidh. Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 1A small group of popped by Pillars of Hercules to say hello before heading to meet Rosy and Bryde who are both new farmers (along with their partners) through the Centre for Stewardship’s New Farmers Scheme who are growing food on ground they have leased from Falkland Estate. They are growing food organically and are selling in local markets and farmers markets across the East of Scotland. Its wonderful to see new farmers and some lady farmers!

We first toured Meadowsweet Organics farmed by Rosy & David who grow organic medicinal, culinary and wildcrafted herbs available fresh or dried as well as beautiful local grown cut flowers and fresh vegetable and salad crops grown market garden style. Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 2 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 3 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 4 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 5 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 6 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 7 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 8 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 10Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 12Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 11Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 14Rosy is currently studying to be a herbalist and is already drying and selling herbs- hoping to continue to grow that aspect of the business.Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 9

We then walked over to the neighbouring field to see Falkland Kitchen Farm farmed by Bryde & Nat. Whilst growing lots of classic veg they also love indulging adventurous cooks, like themselves, with interesting and exciting varieties. In the coming months they will be using herbs grown on the farm to create an exciting range of culinary sauces. Along with growing salad crops and fresh vegetables they keep buckfast honeybees which was particularly brilliant for me to see. The biodiversity was evident and really inspiring.Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 13

We headed up the hill to a young orchard with 4 eating varieties of organic apples and met Ninian Stuart, the hereditary keeper of Falkland Palace who was very warm & welcoming. Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 16Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 15Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 26Over lunch we chatted about history & land reformcommunity engagementcommunity empowerment and came away with our heads buzzing with excitement and possibility for Scotland’s future.Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 25Once we returned to Comrie we had a brief debrief of the day and then had a walk round.Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 17 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 18Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 27We were lead on our expedition by Mark Williams- foraging guru– and saw lots of cool fungi (not all photos above are of edible ones!) and plants and excitingly ate them for dinner! It was a pure joy to taste so many wonderful foods that are all around us every day.Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 19 Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 20Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 23Clem taught us to make and cook Bannocks in their traditional form while we were serenaded by Fergus on flute & pipies and Rachel on fiddle . It was a outdoor feast of epic proportions. Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 22The evening celebrated a birthday and then turned towards a traditional Ceilidh with songs poems stories and laughter. The day was pure gold and I think we all went to bed that night feeling inspired, empowered and a little enchanted!Nourish Food Leaders, Beechbrae 21

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71. Water at Beechbrae Wood

We have been working for the past year towards getting a borehole dug at Beechbrae so that we have water to water our plants, wash our hands and have a drink! First we had to find the water. We had Doug Bates from GeoDivining International came out in July 2014 to douse and tell us where the best place to drill for water was.

It was really interesting watching Doug walk over patches of land and watch the rods responding. I got to have a go and seemed to be able to pick up the water as well which was great fun.

Doug Dousing

Fast foward nearly a year and we now have funding in place thanks to the Climate Challenge Fund to drill the borehole in hopes to find water.

Day 1: Raeburn Drilling came out of site with their huge tracked machine ready to begin drilling.Beechbrae Borehole 1Beechbrae Borehole 2Day 2: The drilling began and the main thing coming from the borehole was variations of grey sludge with some water from the borehole.Beechbrae Borehole 3Beechbrae Borehole 4Day 3: Sludge turned more liquid and started flowing more regularly. After each drill down into the earth air was shot into the hole and a strainer caught the rock sediments to track what was being drilled through. Beechbrae Borehole 5Beechbrae Borehole 6Water began flowing at ~40 meters by the end of the day.Beechbrae Borehole 7Beechbrae Borehole 8Day 4: The water flow increased significantly at 45 meters and kept getting better! Beechbrae Borehole 9We are very grateful for the superb services of Raeburn Drilling and Doug from Geodivining International- what a fantastic result! Beechbrae Borehole 10
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70. Blackridge Primary Garden

There are several planters in the playground at Blackridge Primary Playground that were pretty empty and looking past their best. A handful of trees and shrubs were there and the School, Eco-Committee and Parent Teacher Council decided to put them back into use after seeing the success of the Nursery Planting.

A planting day was arranged and advertised and preparations began for the playground makeover.Blackridge Garden Day 11 June 2015, Beechbrae

It was a cracking sunny day and we got stuck in straight away. Here’s a few before shots.Blackridge Primary Planting, Beechbrae4
Blackridge Primary Planting, Beechbrae 5Thanks to a group of many parent volunteers throughout the day the beds really began to take shape. We even got some keen student volunteers wanting to help plant during their lunch, which was great help. The benches were also stained and look really great.Blackridge Primary Planting, Beechbrae 3 Lots of fruit, veg, herbs & great bio-diverse plants are now in their new home. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can HARVEST & EAT when school is back in after the summer! Blackridge Primary Planting, Beechbrae2Thanks to Blackridge Primary for supplying the plants, planters and benches. And a HUGE thanks to all the many parents who came out and gave a hand throughout the day- we couldn’t have done this without you! Here’s a few of the volunteers.Blackridge Primary Planting, Beechbrae

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69. Blackridge Nursery Planters

Ally has been busy at Blackridge Primary working to help plant fruit and veg at the school. The Nursery was looking for a bit of a general tidy & wanted add some natural beauty to their outdoor space and the school, had 8 wooden planters ready to be used. Picture5Along with the much appreciated help from Clare Gregor we managed to shift 1 ton of top soil up the hill to the planters which was a hard days work!Picture3After filling the planters with a mix of top soil and compost they were ready to get planted. We worked with each class (AM & PM Nursery- P6) to involve each pupil in the planting of the plants.Picture4The mayhem began! We were greeted by enthusiastic and very helpful students as we talked about the different plants and their uses. A before & After at the end of the day.Picture9We had various themes in the different planters and the clear favourite was the sensory section (plants that smell & feel nice). Check out the Nursery’s Blog with more photos from the planting.  Picture1The end results are beautiful and brilliant! Thanks so much for everyone who helped make this happen- especially Blackridge Primary & Nursery & Clare.Picture6Picture7 Picture8Blackridge Primary Beechbrae CCF Logos

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68. Blackridge Primary Eco School

Blackridge Primary School has worked hard towards becoming an Eco-School this last term. I (Ally) have been invited to join the committee as a community member which I am really enjoying.

We’ve had a few meetings choosing priorities to focus on and beginning to make plans and strategies to make them happen. This has included taking before photos of the school grounds and making flyers to help make new food waste bins clearly understood. We also had a very important meeting where we all went LITTER PICKING- we managed to pick 5 bags full of rubbish in 30 minutes. Keep posted for the other exciting things we get up to when terms back.Blackridge Primary Litter Pick Eco-School, Beechbrae CCFBlackridge Primary Beechbrae CCF Logos

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67. Beechbrae Blossom Day

Yesterday we hosted a Beechbrae Blossom Day for community members to come and see the orchard in different seasons. We had a few new visitors who were keen to learn more about how fruit grows and see the biodiversity in Beechbrae Orchard. Thanks to all who came out to join us!Beechbrae Blossom Day Flyer


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