BOG Organic Gardeners AGM 2013
Sunday 2 November 10.00
Smailholm Village Hall

Apologies Mike Madden, Graham & Rosemary Bell, Sarah Eno, Andy Swales, Maggie Warner (by email – she said she would be with us in spirit), Sandy Irvine, Liz Howell, Pam Collins, John Wiley.

Sue Neville Taylor, Judith Davison, Roberta Carruthers, Janet and Steve Grime, Steve Elves, David and Marina Catt, Ian & Prue Pullen, Mike Murray, Birgitta Paves-Murrly, Barbara Graham, Michael van Beinum, Robert Leetham, David Griggs, Thomas Stewart, Jennifer Wallace, Catherine Ross, Brian and Sarah Cummock, John Taylor, Pam Boyd, Frances Lindsay, Sue Watts, Michael Scott, Frankie and Edgar Mueller, Jennifer Britain,Tom Stewart.

General reports

Report from Secretary in lieu of Chair
Sandy Irvine who had been doing such a grand job stepped down as chair early this year (or was it late last year?) because of health concerns. He was hoping to be back in place by the autumn but has asked to give up the post. This is a sad loss to us but we are all wishing him a successful return to full health so we can see him and his lovely garden again.

A major change early next year will be the launch of a new website. Please record a resounding vote of thanks to Jenny Wallace (and others in the past) for finalising this to contract and liaising with Paul Smith of VISTAdesign, as well as managing the BOG membership.

Also many thanks to Robert and Blair for their production of the excellent newsletter. Writing up events is simple – please think about offering at the start of a garden visit, so you can record as you view!

In terms of achieving BOGs charitable aims (charity number SCO 26903), we have done a fair bit of informal education and lots of skill sharing at garden visits and the workshops. These activities are core to BOG, and are thoroughly enjoyable for visitors if not organisers – judging by the newsletter reports.

So another year to look forward to and can we hope for such a splendid one as this past year? Essentially, we are about sharing, enthusing, learning about organic gardening, and promoting organic growing as a sensible healthy way to care for the planet…..

Main points outlined :
Potato Day – success though takings slightly down and concern re varieties.
Apple Day – good liaison with Harestanes and successful and enjoyable day.
Website – thanks to Jenny for work and for Membership pamphlets which available.
Paul Smith from Viva Digital was selected for web site work. He has worked out format – clear, user friendly, using WordPress, using this as a girdle to contain range of potential functions. BOG will be able to update events, add pages, etc in cleaner and simpler way. There were questions re :
Logo – Judith has old one
Who adds content – David Catt said he had but not wanting to continue; Robert could if easy to use. On the old site several people could put programme events on – but other people could not amend other people’s entries so it is worth making sure anyone can edit/ alter any content.
Questions re maintaining site : once Paul is paid he will continue with it.
It should be ready by Jan/Feb. The cost is £1880 – no VAT because charity and he has spent a lot of time without charging.

Membership update from Jenny for 2013:
Total member households – 377
Complimentary – 6
Standing orders to be paid – 8
Total = 389

Deaths – 2
Cancelled – 25
Not paid so removed from list : 41
New members since 01/01/13 – 36

When Jenny took over it was 439 households.

Jenny proposed that membership cards should be discontinued: a vote was taken and the proposal carried.

Robert and Blair were thanked for their work on the newsletter and members were urged to send in articles.

Robert reiterated that it is a lot easier if reports and articles are offered rather than twisting people’s arms. Contributions are gratefully received and 2 on the same subject are better than none. Articles are welcome covering events, particular hobbies and interests, topical subjects – but the editor gets the final say on what goes in.

Blair’s role recognised – he manages to convert a string of articles into coherent newsletter and Roberta was thanked for her illustrations.

There was a question from the floor on how many BOG members are bee keepers but no one had asked. However the crucial role of bees was well recognised and while they were previously kept for the production of honey our dependence on bee populations for pollination is a concern It was suggested that we could use the web site for a survey on bee keepers.

BOG status – we originally had charity status to access grants but we need to begin a discussion as to whether BOG retains charity status. There were various points made from the floor underlining the value of charity status – to access grants, to avoid VAT, and David clarified the importance of being a company ltd by guarantee in removing liability for any debts from membership.

Seed order
Members were encouraged by Robert to order seeds through the BOG group order as the savings are great – even if only 5 packets. See newsletter for details.

Reports of events

Apple report
Prue reported that we do need members to help with the heavy task of putting up and taking down the car ports and putting tables in position – but we have had a small band of willing helpers. We are also grateful to Roberta for her apple tasting table and to all the members who brought apples and baking. The money raised was sent to Farm Africa.

West area programme
David has co-ordinated the programme for west area and is stepping down this year. He thanked everyone for their contributions. The co-ordinator is dependent on other members to make suggestions and these come from the core of members, sometimes a sub committee meeting has been held but it is more often organised by emails. We rely on suggestions for what people would like covered and particularly from people offering their garden for workshops or visits. The main job is to put together the programme, work out dates, timing etc and see that programme takes place. It is important to remember to ask someone to write up report and it is useful to do so during not after the visit. David has run a lot of workshops and we have valued his expertise. Fortunately he is willing to do more workshops if asked and if someone else does organisation.
The chair said it was a good time to record our thanks and express relief that not losing his help yet.

East area Susan agreed that important to ask someone to write up visits. The meetings of May, June, July and September went ahead but had to cancel the bird talk. There was an extra event in Sept when BOG was invited to have a stall in Berwick slow food/film festival in the Maltings, which was based on allotments. We gained 3 new members and sold books. Susan thanked David Griggs for the session on soil fertility; the Alnmouth visit proved a good meeting and focused on chickens. It was a small but good programme and Susan would welcome suggestions for next year – chickens?

A visit to Charles Jencks garden in Dumfries-shire has been proposed and Susan is taking names to see if viable to organise a minibus.

Literature Catherine reported that the internet has knocked the book business, and the aim has been to reduce stock because we don’t sell many. She plans to get small leaflets that sell for £1, and would like to produce our own basic set of leaflets on gardening common topics, using 1 side of A4 on compost, recycling how to buy apple tree, etc as a starting point with refs to books/web sites for further details. We’d like to invite people to write these, they could be illustrated and put on sale. David suggested that we use some of his technical notes from the web site on pruning etc.
Should our books be advertised on our site – this was deferred for later.

It was suggested that we could print off Gardening Organic leaflets but Catherine felt we needed more basic leaflets – e.g. how to start an allotment at entry level.

Potato Day
The venue is booked, potato order in hand but Robert said we are still feeling the consequences of poor growing year last year with fewer varieties, some growers going out of business – as it takes 2 years to grow seed and some – Edzell Blue, Yetholm Gypsy – are difficult. We should get over 100 varieties again although only 80/90 will be available from our main supplier this year. We only order UK or Scottish only because of brown rot.

Susan suggested it was a good time for expanding variety of stalls. She will contact the recycling group at Scottish Borders Council as a replacement for Maggie Warner who used to do this.

A new cut flower business near Berwick was suggested for a stall.

Car parking – it was questioned whether we need to pay £200 for parking but as this had been chaotic when BOG ran parking we thought we should continue to use BUAS but warn that the fees had risen a lot recently.

Birgitta asked if we should have a questionnaire re what potatoes people chose and why, and offer any tips because there is so much expertise that could be shared. Robert felt it had been tried in past and difficult to get enough people to answer it. Could we use the web site? Some people felt it was very personal and potatoes were very susceptible to soil and weather conditions and can be different each year. It was agreed that we should alert people that feedback would be welcome after they have grown their crops and this could be shared. Should we use Twitter for this kind of feedback – the use of Twitter on the web site is to be discussed at a later date and Jenny commented that the web site has that functionality but need to decide when and what to use.

Show prizes – Jill Cameron and Keith – but not there – 5 entries this year which is up on previous years.

Financial report
Keith was not present but had given notes to Jennifer to give verbal report. Income slightly down on last year for potato day but not very different.
Total 2012: £11, 343, 2013 : £13, 349. The figure of £13000 was at end March 2013, and was a sort of maximum figure before all the bills from potato day came in.

David approved the accounts, Catherine – 2nd.

Appointment of Office holders
Debt of gratitude to Keith who has been treasurer for years – Michael Van Beinum has taken over as treasurer., Catherine proposed, David 2nd
Secretary – Sarah Eno – proposed by Susan, Judith 2nd.
Vice Chair – Jennifer will continue – Jenny proposed, Susan 2nd.
West programme – leave for moment
Chair –Prue willing to stand (reluctantly) Jennifer proposed, Catherine 2nd.

West programme – David said Sandy might consider but need one person who is prepared to put programme together ; a committee will do it in meantime – just need someone to finalise. Demarcation between east and west is is through Catherine’s house (Thirlstane, near Yetholm).

Do we need both an east and a west co-ordinator? Roberta explained that we have 2 parallel programmes to reduce travel. Easier to co-ordinate smaller programme. The area stretches from Peebles to Berwick which is too far and it helps to know local members.

Election of directors
We have an ex officio chair and vice chair – 3 ordinary members and 1 stands down each year but not compulsory. What do directors do? David said that they have legal responsibility to see BOG keeps within the law (never hasn’t) but checks that activities suitable. Directors have no financial liability. Ian Pullen agreed to stand to replace Sarah.
Sarah is happy to become company secretary
The current directors are: David Griggs, Sandy Irvine, Susan Watts, Jennifer Brittain. Ian Pullen to be added. Sarah Eno resigned from director to be company secretary.

Michael as new treasurer and new to the job commented on current account fluctuations over year and at moment funds stand at £6, 236 – a lot less than reported in annual accounts – just over £4000. Keith advised that should keep £6,000 as bottom figure. However funds will go up in new year. They stood at £13,000 at end of financial year – but before Potato Day expenses.
Tom asked about then ongoing commitments for web site and for maintenance of site. Jenny said that maintenance was free for first year and web hosting would be £120 a year after the first year.

Apple Day Michael Scott said that Apple Day 2014 would be held on Sunday 5 October. There would be an additional event on bees at Harestanes.

Tom asked what proportion of members we reach by email – and Jenny said it was approx. one third of members. It was suggested that we should encourage more members to give us their email contact. Jenny said she would mention this in her letter which goes into the next newsletter. Birgitta asked if the newsletter might be emailed to save costs but it was generally felt that people valued their printed copies, tended not to read online content as avidly and any saving in numbers posted would be limited by higher costs for a smaller print run.

Michael Scott asked if Harestanes could have BOG membership leaflets. Prue will drop some off. He reminded us that he is currently hosting 3 car ports and as they are getting car ports which are easier to erect he would like us to store at least one. It was proposed, voted on and agreed that BOG should dispose of one by advertising in BOG newsletter or Freecycle and Harestanes will store it until we make a decision. Michael gave his thanks for help on Apple Day.

BOG’s charity status was again raised. Robert recommended that we continue charity status as we thereby benefit from gift aid and VAT waived.
David clarified that there are separate 2 issues – charity status and ltd company. Without company status if liable every member becomes responsible while having ltd co status avoids this. David felt we should retain status quo. Jennifer said we need to study the situation and implications.

Tom proposed that we use the status to apply for funding for the web site. Wind turbine funds are open to us and companies need to find people to apply for them.
The Bridge is affiliated to council and is there to offer help in applying for funds. Robert will contact Heather Batch to see if viable for us to apply to cover web site costs.

Tom asked if Twitter might be a way to extend the use of the web. Judith said there had been an un-supportive response last time although Sarah had commented it would be useful. Jenny pointed out that this would entail someone willing to maintain it and it was felt that we needed a younger member conversant with Twitter and who enjoys chatting online, willing to take this on for BOG. It needs someone who is already using it. We might use it to advertise workshops – but we were unsure whether we could include details of addresses of events and agreed this needed further consideration.

Jennifer thanked people for coming along and concluded the meeting.

BOG business meeting pm

Business meetings were fixed as follows :
Sunday 19 January at Jenny and Tom’s house in Tweedmouth – to include a Potato Day meeting.
Sunday 11 May at Prue and Ian’s house, St Boswells – to include Plant Exchange
Third meeting – to be arranged.

Potato Day
BUAS is booked.
Susan to check if Cheryl still willing to organise stallholders.
Additional stall holders would be welcome. Prue to obtain Apple Day list and suggested new fruit tree grower in Innerleithen. Steve proposed a ‘garden jumble’ stall and a potato based quiz. The same musicians will be invited and seed man ( sorry name has gone) will be invited again for his advice. Liz and Kevin Howell to be asked to hold beekeepers stall.
Prue will organise volunteers again and Robert check if Lesley willing to organise children’s activities.
Roberta will organise tastings again and Jennifer willing to help – but they would like more dishes offered + recipes
Need to distribute poster better than before – and poster needs improvement. Robert and Roberta to look into this. Judith warned that print costs will eat into our profits.
Roberta to send press releases to journals but needs any details of day first please.
Prue will do usual press adverts.

Meetings 2013/14

Bees : talk in late March, with visit to Frankie Mueller’s hives in early April. She warned that bees will only come out if no wind or rain and people should wear light coloured clothing and wellies and cover heads – e/g/ midge hoods

Catherine has offered a garden visit in early June and this could be combined with a visit to Yetholm allotments – Prue to enquire. Possible dates 7 or 14 June

Moira Land has agreed to a BOG visit to her wild flower and bumble bee meadows just south of Jedburgh – Prue to check dates – later June or early July.

Crailing Orchard – need to check suitable dates. Sarah to follow up?

Another workshop with Robert on cuttings and propagation was proposed.

Visit to Charlie Poulson’s garden for July – Judith will contact.

Belford – Janet and Peter West for August- Susan to contact

Winter pruning in Selkirk for next March?

Autumn talk – Bird talk and /or presentation re edible Todmorden which Barbara from Greener Melrose has.

Other proposals were a tool workshop if we knew anyone to run it? And a hedge laying workshop which Maggie Magee might help us with..?