Borders Organic Gardeners.
Minutes of AGM
Smailholm Village Hall
10.00 a.m.

1. Present.
Jennifer Britain (Chair), Judith Davison, Keith Banyard, Maggie Warner, Monica Bolton, Alan Mould, Robert Leetham, Liz Howell, Roberta Carruthers, Marina Catt, David Catt, Jennifer Croall, Val Smith, Bill Smith, Frances Lindsay, Pam Boyd, Sarah Eno, Graham Bell, Rosemary Bell, Susan Watts, Sue Neville-Taylor, David Griggs.

Sandy Irvine, Blair Cummock, Sarah Cummock, Ruth Morozzo, David Banks, Jenny Wallace, Tom Stewart, Steve Elves.

2. Minutes of Last AGM.
These were proposed as a true record by Maggie Warner and seconded by Roberta Carruthers.
Matters arising.
All the issues raised last year have been addressed in normal business meetings.
Monica Bolton addressed the meeting on the proposal she made last year on providing fruit trees to families of new babies. She felt that it was not appropriate to take this idea forward. As requested, she has done research on this and found a number of difficulties, She felt that the project could easily go beyond the remit of BOG and would involve a lot of work. There was some discussion on this, and the meeting agreed with Monica that it would be better to target the management existing community orchards and privately owned fruit trees.

3. Reports.
Jennifer pointed out that she was standing in for Sandy Irvine who was unable to attend because of urgent family matters. She expressed thanks to Alan Mould who has done a great deal of work on the website. Val and Bill Smith intend to move from the area, and Jennifer thanked them for their inspiring displays and demonstrations. She also thanked Maggie Warner, who is also moving away, for her work over the years as Membership Secretary and distributor of the newsletter. Jennifer also thanked Judith Davison who wished to stand down as Secretary. Jennifer reflected that, as people move on, this gives opportunities to others to put forward new ideas and projects. Briefly, she went through the details of the vacancies which now exist.

Judith commented on the main strength of BOG to be the ability to get the right balance on many things. We have always balanced our shared idealism and enthusiasm for the environment, wildlife and things organic with practicality. This is demonstrated by our range of workshops, talks, visits and displays, particularly those of Bill and Val on practical ways to deal with pests, weeds etc. We also manage to get a good balance between established practice and innovation in gardening techniques, and between “old” hands and newcomers to BOG. As people move on, we look forward to new ideas being put forward.

Events West
David reported on a successful year. The earlier part of the year had been busier than later on and one garden visit had to be dropped because of problems the hosts were having with building work. The pruning workshops had been particularly successful, as had that on working in a new greenhouse with discussion on the topic of protected growing.
David is prepared to do one more year as Events Organiser for the Western region, but would then like to pass the task on. He suggested that garden visits should concentrate on all sorts of gardens, not just big ones, and that they could focus on asking BOG visitors to suggest solutions to problems, as well as on showing off the garden.

Events East.
Susan reported that the permaculture and budding workshops had been particularly successful, and would like someone to submit reports on them for the newsletter. Keith mentioned that 35 of the 57 grafts done at the budding workshop seemed to be successful, although we’ll have to wait until spring to be certain. We also need to sort out distribution of the successfully grafted trees.
Susan also mentioned the workshop in Wooler on setting up a community garden. The beds seem to be growing well and several members of the local community are now involved.

Rosemary asked if non-members were able to attend our workshops. We agreed that they could, but rather than paying an attendance fee, people would be asked to become members.

Catherine and John were not present to submit a report. Keith pointed out that the stall worked more as a means of meeting people, starting discussions and giving information, rather than a means of selling books. Liz pointed out that competition from the Internet meant it was unlikely this venture will ever be profitable, but that it gave us an invaluable contact point with the public. Roberta pointed out that there are boxes of books which are taken to various events. It would be nice to have one at every workshop, but we appreciate the logistics of this could be a problem.

Maggie had prepared a report showing various data since 2005 on aspects of membership. (Copies available from secretary.) The membership has remained fairly steady over the last four years at just over 400 households (around 550 listed individuals). She drew attention to the possibility of tax paying members listing their membership fees as Gift Aid, which allows BOG to reclaim income tax. Maggie also pointed out that the old bank account would be closed soon and all membership standing orders would need to be made to the Triodos account.

Sadly (for us), Maggie is planning on moving to Yorkshire soon and a new membership secretary is needed. Sandy has made some arrangements with a possible replacement and, hopefully, this will be confirmed soon.

Robert thanked Maggie for all her work over the years as proof reader and for posting out the newsletter. He also expressed his appreciation to Blair Cummock for the work he does in laying out the newsletter. Robert stressed that a newsletter is only possible if people submit contributions, preferably before the deadline.

Robert also took the opportunity to remind people about the collective seed order which he manages. Members should send their filled in order forms to Robert for Chase Organics and Tamar Organics. These count as a collective order and attract significant discounts. Bulky items should only be ordered if it is possible to pick them up promptly from Robert in Berwick.

Alan reviewed the year in which he consulted with the four website editors (Maggie, Judith, Sandy and David Catt) and identified two perceived aims of the website. The first, to act as a shop window was considered to be done well, the second, as a means of communicating with members, was less successful. Alan quoted a great deal of evidence that members do not use the website. There was a great deal of general discussion which identified that, generally speaking BOG members are not very interested in spending time on the Internet. (They may prefer gardening!) and that there were a few specific items on the existing site which could do with precise modifications.

Alan identified three options for the future of the website
· Do nothing and keep the website as it is.
· Go for a complete overhaul, including links to Twitter and Facebook. Previous correspondence with Dave Coyle suggests this would cost around £1000.
· Go for something in between where we seek to improve specific features of the site.

We agreed that the third option was probably the best option.

There was extended discussion on features of the website. Jennifer Croall suggested that rotation of photos could be done automatically. Roberta suggested that information on how to do things in the garden might be of interest. Data protection issues affect use of the members’ area and we decided some time ago to avoid putting personal details on the site. Graham asked if we needed a members’ area at all. Robert pointed out that if we removed it now, it might be problematic to put it back later if we changed our minds. Graham asked for a vote on the issue, seconded by David Catt. There were 9 votes for, and 9 against. We left the casting vote for Sandy to make.

Jennifer terminated the discussion by thanking Alan for his efforts and asking him to approach Dave Coyle on the third option.

Potato Day.
Susan pointed out that a Potato day meeting would follow, but that BUAS was booked. Keith pointed out that P Day was still making a surplus, although this could be easily wiped out by a day of very severe weather. Graham asked about the query made last year about a genetically modified potato. Sarah had made some enquiries, but had not had a reply. Robert assured us we would not be stocking genetically modified varieties.

Apple Day.
Susan reported on Pru’s behalf. The day had been very successful and had raised over £150 for Farm Africa. Mike and Pru had worked very effectively together, although there were fewer people than in previous years and some of the stallholders had not had a good day.

Show Prize.
On Jim’s behalf, Keith reported that 10 shows had been sent cheques, but two were returned when shows were cancelled due to weather problems. We agreed that the Prize was a good way of publicising BOG and organic gardening.

4. Treasurer’s report.
Keith presented copies of the accounts which the accountant had prepared for submission to Companies house and OSCR. There was some discussion on whether our funds should be invested to give better interest, but we agreed that the money needed to be readily accessible.

Keith pointed out that our assets amounted to around £10,000. If Potato Day were to go catastrophically wrong due to bad weather, we would need around £6000 to cover costs. He felt some of the rest ought to be spent on suitable projects and asked for ideas on this.

Jennifer signed the accounts, and Sarah seconded this.

5. Appointment of Office Holders.
Except for the Membership Secretary and Secretary, all officers were happy to continue.
Sandy had already had a possible nomination for membership secretary. Sarah was happy to take on part of the secretary’s role in preparing and minuting business meetings and dealing with the website. Judith explained that the “official” company secretary’s job was not onerous, but carried considerable responsibility. Judith would like to shadow someone new through the coming year and explain the tasks as they arose. There were no volunteers for this role. Judith agreed to continue with the job for a while until someone was available.

6. Appointment of Directors.
We have built up a custom of a director standing down each year and Sarah has been in post longest. There were no volunteers to take over, so Sarah agreed to continue for another year.

Any other business.
· Jennifer Croall has large quantities of manure available to be taken away. Contributions to the Friends of BGH appreciated.
· Graham repeated his offer to give a talk on garden birds, which was enthusiastically received.
· Susan presented Bill and Val, Maggie and Judith with gifts in appreciation of their work over the years. The meeting thanked them for their efforts.
· Bill and Val pointed out that they had brought their display material with them to pass on to someone to rejuvenate/develop. Liz Howell volunteered her husband (in his absence) and we sent him our thanks for taking on this task.

We then had a great lunch!

Minutes prepared by Judith Davison.