Email: info@bordersorganicgardeners.org

Minutes of Borders Organic Gardeners Annual General Meeting
held at Smailholm Village Hall 6th November 2011.

Present.
Blair Cummock, Sandy Irvine, Monica Bolton, Frances Lindsay, Adrian McDonald, Christina McDonald, Jennifer Croall, David Catt, Marina Catt, Robert Leetham, Lesley Angell, Susan Watts, Maggie Warner, Jennifer Britain, Judith Davison, Liz Howell, Keith Banyard, David Banks, Michael Scott, Roberta Carruthers.

Apologies.
Ruth Morozzo, Bill and Val Smith, Jim and Liz Cameron, Judith and Robin Wolfe, Sue Neville-Taylor, Steve Elves, Peter Lindsay, Sarah Cummock, Andy Swales, David Griggs, Gemma Banks, Di and Nigel Davis.

Minutes of the last AGM.
Copies were distributed. David Banks, seconded by Roberta Carruthers, proposed that we accept them as a true record. Issues raised at the 2010 AGM have been dealt with at subsequent business meetings.

Reports.
Chairman.
Susan considered that BOG had had a good year. It had felt good with a number of new people attending events. Workshops and visits had been varied and well attended and our public events had been very successful.
We have made various attempts to involve younger people, especially children. The children’s activities at events such as Potato Day have always been very successful, and we have been involved in schemes to distribute seed potatoes to school gardening groups. We have also tried doing family days but, despite great efforts by host families, these have not been well attended. This is an area that we may want to look at again, or accept that other organisations can do this better and BOG’s efforts should be directed elsewhere.

Secretary.
Judith reported that we had had a good year. A number of new people are now actively involved in BOG activities which is very welcome. We must continue to encourage people to contribute ideas, as this is what keeps an organisation such as BOG healthy and moving forward.
In 2007 we approached the BBC about hosting Gardeners’ Question Time. They got back a few weeks ago expecting an instant response. We need to actively manage any further applications. David Griggs is willing to do this.
We also approached Garden Organic about hosting their AGM, but have not had a clear response.
The workshop at Northumberland Nurseries was very successful, due in part to having good facilities and materials ready to hand. We may want to consider paying outside agencies to do talks, workshops etc. as this one was very good value.
We get a lot of email communications about various products which may be of interest to members. If anyone is interested, we could do with someone to monitor these.

West Events.
David reminded us that there is still a workshop to come. He reported on a successful programme and was particularly pleased with garden visits to people who were actively seeking advice from other BOG members. These were of use to all concerned and are as beneficial as visits to “perfect” gardens.

East Events.
Susan was pleased that a number of new members had come along to meetings. A series of workshops will run on into next year. We have ordered rootstock for plum etc. budding which will take place around June/July 2011, followed be transplanting in Autumn/Winter. Susan reminded us that there is a talk still to come in Kelso.

Literature Report- to follow.

Membership
Maggie distributed a report showing a continued rise in both household and individual membership. We discussed raising membership fees, but it was clear that the current fees still cover the cost of producing and distributing the newsletter. Many members choose to give more than the minimum of £5 per household. We will use the forthcoming newsletter to remind people that they can increase their standing order if they feel it is appropriate.

Newsletter.
Robert thanked the contributors and design and production team for their efforts. He showed us several old issues which illustrated the change in layout over the years. In order to get ideas on improving the newsletter further, Robert issued a challenge to those present, to tell him how they would change things if they were editor.
Marina thanked the whole team for their efforts in relation to the newsletter, David Banks echoed this, commenting on the very high standard achieved.

Website.
There was a sense of dissatisfaction over the website. David Catt pointed out that a number of changes had been suggested over recent years, some had been put into effect, but had not been carried out. Blair wondered how many people actually use the site. Maggie mentioned that all new members were invited to register to use the website and that she hoped to be able to use it to send email updates to members, but this had not yet been put into effect. Marina wondered whether our current website coordinator was still able to carry out the task as she has major commitments elsewhere. We agreed to ask her, with a view to trying to recruit someone else in the membership to act as website coordinator if she is unable to continue. Once this has been done, we can then review our arrangement with a website designer/manager. Sarah suggested we give ourselves a deadline such as the second business meeting to sort this out.

We will also give the website address greater prominence in the newsletter.

Potato Day.
BUAS is booked for 4/3/2012. The meeting approved going ahead with Potato Day 2012. This year there will be no talks or Gardeners’ Question Time (which involved a lot of work, but were poorly attended as most BOG people were working!) This gives us a bit more space to play with.
Robert has ordered about ¾ of the potatoes. There will be no Bel de Fontaney or other French bred tubers because of disease control restrictions.
Maggie mentioned that SBC would like to include a group use pedal power to make various things work.
The second planning meeting of the Potato Group for 2012 will be on 26/11/11. At this stage, further members will be welcome to help plan and organise the event. (Further details from secretary.)
Lesley also applied for volunteers to help on the day and pointed out that, if people wanted to get involved in BOG activities, this was a good way to “dip a foot in the water” and get a better idea of how BOG operated.

Green Festival.
Lesley reported a lot of interest in the BOG display at the Borders Green Festival in Berwick in July. The book selection provided by Catherine and John, the plant protection display provided by Bill and Val and the BOG boards were all very popular and generated a lot of discussion. We were lucky enough to be able to have the stall outside without the carport or being in the marquee and this enhanced the day.

Apple Day.
Mike thanked all the volunteers who had helped make 2011 the most successful Apple Day yet, with increased numbers over previous years. Particular thanks were expressed to Prue Pullen for acting as BOG liaison person for 2011. A few stall holders dropped out at the last minute and Mike thanked Gill Orde Catering for stepping in. More poster and fliers were distributed this year, and Mike thanked BOG for running the adverts and press releases in the Johnson Press papers.
Mike thought the children’s activities were very successful and “William Tell” has found a new lease of life. Harestanes is also considering getting an apple juice maker along next year, getting a “pop-up” shelter, starting an orchard, and introducing a small fee for stallholders.
SBC can print posters. It would be helpful to get batches of these to a few BOG members who will distribute them to key locations.

BOG Show Prize.
Seven shows took up the BOG Show Prize in 2011 and were very happy with it. We expressed our thanks to Jim who has increased participation in the prize. Roberton Show sent a letter of thanks and also asked if BOG would like to attend the Show next year.

Treasurer’s Report.

Keith presented our accounts as prepared by the accountant in a format acceptable to Companies House and OSCR. Maggie Warner, seconded by Sarah Eno, proposed that the meeting accepted these accounts, which was agreed by the meeting.

Keith drew attention to the fact that our accountant seemed to be charging a nominal fee and we approved his request to provide a Christmas “thank you” gift of wine or similar.

Appointment of Officers.

Susan stood down as Chairman. Judith thanked her, on behalf of the membership for her hard work over the last two years, her tactful leadership and constant encouragement and good humour.

Chairman.
Judith, seconded by David Catt, proposed Sandy Irvine as our next Chairman, and he was duly elected.

Vice Chairman.
This left a vacancy as Vice- Chairman. Jennifer Britain volunteered to do this. Maggie Warner, seconded by Susan Watts, proposed Jennifer as Vice-Chair and she was duly elected.

Office holders.
No office holders have indicated that they are not willing to continue and the meeting agreed that all would stay in their present posts, the situation with the website coordinator will be clarified.

Directors.
Pam Boyd had already indicated that she wished to step down as director this year.
Roberta, seconded by Keith, proposed the following as directors, which the meeting accepted.

David Griggs, Sarah Eno, Susan Watts, Sandy Irvine, Jennifer Britain.

Company Secretary.
Sarah, seconded by Susan, proposed Judith as Company Secretary which was agreed by the other directors present.

Any Other Business.

1. Monica Bolton had mentioned at the previous business meeting the possibility of BOG sponsoring buying fruit trees to give to families of newborn babies in the Scottish Borders. Monica pointed out that this fitted the BOG objectives very closely.
As requested, Monica had brought further information. The cost of trees depends on quantities bought and varies from around £7 to £15 each. There are around 1100 births per year in the Scottish Borders, but we do not know how many would want to take up such an offer. We would also have to deal with the fact that babies are born throughout the year, but trees are best planted in winter.

A number of aspects were discussed.

· Jennifer Croall is also the Chair of the Friends of the Borders General Hospital and will talk to Monica about how communication in the hospital works.
· The trees will do better with proper aftercare. Will BOG members be available to provide this?
· Finance- would we put a cap on the amount spent in a year?
· If we go ahead, Apple Day would be an obvious lift-off event.
· Would trees be better planted in private gardens or a community orchard?
· Lesley pointed out that Health Visitors could provide a link to families with new babies.

Monica asked for the meeting’s approval to research the topic further, which was duly given. Sandy suggested that Monica could use BOG News to test opinion. David Banks is willing to write a piece for the press. Sandy asked Monica to bring a maximum of three alternative strategies to the next Business Meeting.

2. Robert asked for the feedback on the newsletter which he requested earlier in the meeting.
· Susan suggested that all forthcoming events- workshops, meetings, etc. together.
· Roberta and Jennifer would like more recipes.
· Book reviews.
· The next 3 deadlines to be published in each edition.
· Monica would like more articles similar to the recent one on potato diseases.
· Sandy suggested Robert might actively demand/request specific topics and quantities from people.
Robert pointed out that the fantastic drawings on the cover of each BOG News were drawn by Roberta and thanked her for continuing to do these.

3. Ruth had sent a message to the meeting drawing attention to the introduction of a genetically modified potato variety- Fortuna- by BASF, which could find its way onto the market by 2014. Sarah suggested that we seek the views of Alan Romans and John Marshall before making further decisions.

Minutes prepared by Judith Davison 13/11/2011