Sunday, 5 March 2017

Future Direction?

The Campbeltown Community Orchard & Garden (CCOG) which has been based in the grounds of Auchinlee since 2000, may have to be dismantled and closed due to the uncertain future facing the Care Home.

The Kintyre Environmental Group (KEG) is the local charity who manage the Community Garden on behalf of the people of Kintyre. The volunteer Trustees are seeking the views of the local community as to whether they are willing to support continuing the Campbeltown Community Orchard and Garden, whether it remains at Auchinlee or at a new location should this site be sold off.

For those who are unfamiliar with the history, it was established behind Auchinlee 18 years ago within the grounds of the old walled garden. It was originally designed with the help of the Beechgrove Garden and featured on TV back in 2000.

In 2007 the garden was taken under the wing of a dynamic and visionary man, Mr Dave Pearson who became the garden’s champion over the next 5 years. Dave and his wife Trish worked tirelessly, doing everything from being the Chair and Secretary of KEG Board, organising numerous open days and submitting endless funding bids to further develop the garden and create much needed employment.

Over the years Dave and the KEG Board introduced and built several new inspiring areas of interest for the local people & children to enjoy. The innovative Nature Watch Garden & Hide which uses spy technology to see inside bird/bee/butterfly nesting boxes and feeding stations, viewed on the TV in the comfort of the Hide. There is also a motion activated video recorder to capture footage of any wildlife when the garden is unoccupied.

Other features at the garden include the Children’s Play area, Fish Pond & Nature Haven, made by the Dalintober Primary School Pupils, Bug Hotels and Sensory Garden,

In 2009, with the permission from the Church of Scotland, KEG undertook its most ambitious project to date, expanding beyond the walled garden into the field above to create a Market Garden, with the intention of starting a Community Enterprise that could sell fresh produce to cover its own running costs and reduce the organization’s dependency on grants.

The poly-tunnels, orchard and soft fruit areas provide low maintenance continuous crops, berries and fruits, almost all year round and will do for many years to come.

In 2011 Dave Pearson won the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Campbeltown Community Orchard & Garden won the Organization of the Year. Sadly we lost Dave on his 65th Birthday in 2012.

The financial difficulties facing Auchinlee Care Home and CrossReach, the current operator of the facility, has seriously jeopardized the future of the Campbeltown Community Orchard & Garden putting it at serious risk of closure or, worse still, under threat of being cleared completely from the two established sites.

It is this plight which has prompted the 4 remaining Directors of KEG to make a plea to everyone in the community to ask you to show your support for the KEG Board and the continued existence of a Community Garden in Campbeltown, either at Auchinlee or possibly at a new site, should the worst case scenario arise.

In order to gauge the level of support that exists within the community, we are appealing to anyone who believes we should find a way forward to save the Campbeltown Community Orchard & Garden, either at it’s present location or, if forced to relocate, at a new site, to please contact us directly either by phone on 07825 613683, email us at or in person at the garden between 9am -1pm, every weekday except Wednesday.

Everyone is very welcome, however we are particularly looking for new directors to strengthen our board, and anyone with expertise in fundraising, (also expertise in social media, using nature spy ware technology, setting up alternative energy sources, solar, wind, hydro etc, upcycling and garden makeovers, plus any other suggestion you may wish to make) would be most welcome.

THIS IS AN URGENT SITUATION which we hope will be resolved one way or the other by the end of March 2017. We believe we would have a 3 month grace period to put contingency plans into action should our worst fear become reality. This would give us to July 2017 at the latest to clear all the CCOG infrastructure and property from the grounds of Auchinlee.

This uncertain situation has caused us to put some operations on hold until we can be assured of our continued viability, as a Community Garden. At the moment we are operating with no staff and are reliant on 3 of the board members to volunteer their time 4 days a week, to honour our commitment to the 3 trainees currently on placement at the garden, until June 2017. We also have a small, dependable and much valued group of volunteers giving practical help in the garden on a regular basis.

We are determined to carry on as normal and have already started planning and sowing for this years growing season. We have huge poly-tunnels which provide a fantastic dry, sheltered, undercover area to work in. There are numerous raised beds and container options for planting and we have a trained Gardener available each day to demonstrate and advise anyone wishing to try gardening for the first time. We are extremely family friendly and intend to offer a range of workshops in the spring, for all ages, starting with the very young right through to people of retirement age.

The garden has baby changing facilities and reasonable access via Bellfield Lane and facilities suitable for all abilities, including people with minor mobility difficulties, provided they enter from the top of the garden via Bellfield Lane between Airdaluinn & Ardmore on High Askomil, follow road to top and turn right to the car park at the end of the road.

If on foot, you can use Auchinlee’s entrance on High Askomil which leads up to the lower half of the Community garden. This is a much more physically challenging approach to the garden as it is up hill and gets steeper towards the top.

The garden has limitless opportunities to offer everyone, from bird watching, making furniture from recycled materials, producing kids sofas and bucket gardening, to learning how to grow food from kitchen scraps and a much more.

Finally the most remarkable feature of the community garden is the spectacular vantage point it has looking over the loch, town and beyond. There are lots of seating areas to maximize the comfort and enjoyment of this amazing place, open to everyone in the community. Please come up and see for yourself, it really is a case of use it before we lose it.

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