Email: info@bordersorganicgardeners.org

BORDERS ORGANIC GARDENERS

Annual General Meeting

2nd November 2014

St Boswells Church Hall

Present: Robert Leetham, Frances Lindsay, Nick Prior, Joyce Ambrose, David Banks, Blair Cummock, Roberta Carruthers, David Griggs, Pam Boyd, Peter Snell, Lesley Blackthorn, Ian Pullen, Barbara Graham, Sarah Cummock, David Catt, Andy Swales, Keith Banyard, Sue Watts, Birgitta Pavos Murray, MikeMurray, Catherine Ross, John Wylie, Steve Elves, Sarah Eno, Prue Pullen, Michael van Beinum.

Apologies: Judith Davidson, Jennifer Wallace and Tom Stewart, Jessamine Pears, Gail Maclean, Peter Lindsay, Rosemary Bell, Maggie Warner who now lives too far away.

(Note initials are used below in reference to members)

Minutes AGM 2/11/2013: no matters arising or questions. Proposer SW, seconder MvB.

Chairs report: given by Prue Pullen.

It has been a pleasure to be more closely involved in BOG this year with an inspiring range of visits and workshops. Even the business meetings are more like a meeting of good friends where we visit tour hosts’ lovely gardens and share a very lovely lunch. Our main event of the year is Potato Day where we have a hard to rival choice of seed potatoes. The event attracts people from great distances to buy our specialist varieties but also provides a good day out for families. Our numbers were slightly down this year but not our profits. We would benefit from better publicity and feature articles in newspapers to raise awareness of the nature of the day.

Apple Day is run in conjunction with Harestanes Country Visitor Centre at Ancrum and this proves an enjoyable and useful collaboration. BOG sells apples and baking and these proceeds go to Farm Africa, we run children’s activities, a tasting and juicing stall, and the day gives BOG a good chance to publicise our work and attract new members.

I was keen this year to make more effort to attract younger members and two of our members are becoming active in local schools, helping with the development of school gardens. We invited ourselves to Schools Countryside Day at the Border Union Showground in May where we engaged with many groups of primary school children, who tried their hands at the Friend and Foe in the garden game, compost sorting and identifying the key features of organic gardening. We have also been asked to give a group of Kelso 6th formers some basic gardening skills so they can help older people with their gardens. I’d like to see this work with children developed in the coming year so we can nurture our love of gardening in the next generation.

Our meetings and visits this year have been varied, interesting and have attracted high numbers. I have suggested that we keep better track of who attends which meeting so have a better overview of who attends which meetings. An early visit was to Moira Land’s wild flower and bumble bee meadows south of Jedburgh. Moira has been working on these meadows over several years to encourage a wider range of species and we walked on cut paths through the lovely displays of wild flowers. We have visited Philliphaugh to see the water turbines and Robbie Johnston’s impressive work in the walled garden. He was so full of advice and answers to our questions that we were in the garden for hours. We spent a lovely August afternoon at Mill Pond Flower Farm near Berwick where flowers were being grown organically and sold locally. These are just a taste of what we have covered over the year and at these meetings we have picked up ideas, shared tips, learned from each other and enjoyed ourselves – so thanks to our hosts.

We have used other occasions to promote organic gardening and BOG. We held a stall at the Berwick Food Festival where we had a lively interest shown in our work and we were invited to participate in Eskdalemuir Day of the Regions where there was considerable interest in BOG and a welcome enthusiasm for organic gardening – and we hope we have attracted a new group of members.

Our treasurer has drawn attention to our financial position, feeling that our funds are gradually declining and that we should consider either raising our annual fee or using other sources of income to bolster our income. This will be discussed and decided at our next meeting.

We are missing the very active involvement of some members who have moved on or away from BOG and the area and some of us are combining rather too many tasks. We are hugely grateful to our newsletter team – Robert, Blair and Roberta and the quality of the newsletter is very much appreciated by the membership. We would like to thank Jenny for her help in overseeing the contract for the new website and wish her well in her new job. We are delighted that Nick Prior will take over this now crucial role in BOG – organising the web site and enabling our better technological communication. It is time that BOG caught up with new ways of engaging members and new audiences by using social media and we are confident that Nick will help us with this.

But we still have jobs that need to be filled : the now very much reduced secretary’s role needs to be filled as Sarah Eno is stepping down; we need a west area programme co-ordinator; we need a vice chair to help me and also people to help with the publicity. We very much hope we can find new members to fill these posts so that we spread the work load more effectively.

This year has been an excellent year in the garden with a long sunny summer and our events and visits have been stimulating, enjoyable and have reached wider audiences. One of the key aims of BOG is to share our enthusiasm and our ideas and experiences of organic gardening and I think BOG has done well in achieving this over 2014.

A well supported vote of thanks was given to Prue for an excellent year of chairing and events, many of which she initiated.

Treasurers report: a statement to end of year March 2014 was presented. Accounts accepted. – proposed RC, seconded BC.

Overall funds are down due to web-site expense but still relatively healthy. Discussion followed:- .

Membership – At present the newsletter is just covering costs. Current printer was chosen when newsletter went to colour because was a better price. So no room there to cut costs.

Potato Day made a slight loss – Hall price keeps rising annually, has been a slight fall in entrance. See suggestions later for raising revenue in 2015.

Advertising can be pricey and of doubtful gain – DB made a number of useful suggestions on this including making sure there is a news item for the press. Its what they like best. Results of surveys is a good hook – survey BOG members for what they grew, what was successful or best, exciting, new….What herbicides/pesticides methods do you (even secretly) use. Favourite slug control methods? Should target survey to an event?

Note the BIODIVERSITY survey will be going out very soon.

Children and competitions …maybe set up something at Potato Day?

Organise a survey for Potato Day with 5 questions (secretary asks was this to hand out for later return or for that day?). Anyway, send questions to DB.

It was agreed that:

1. Raising the membership price (currently £5) – a gentle suggestion is inserted in next news-letter initially, to encourage members to increase their membership (due January) rather asking for an increase in the standing order because this might result in losses which could cancel any gains. Changing over to direct debits is complicated and more work for the treasurer (KB), though can be easier to increase.

2. Ask members to recruit another member

3. Ask members to bring a friend to Potato Day

BOG doesn’t do fund-raising and BG suggested running a event like a Coffee Morning Plus+ – funky junk, seed/plant swap, gardening surgery, combine with a talk, run a computer gardening game (?) etc.

Newsletter:

Last one was especially good. Much appreciation to RL and BC. Question about sending out on email but rejected because a hard copy is very much preferred and appreciated. Is advertising acceptable in the newsletter – yes and used to have more but needs someone to organise.

Membership report: Data supplied by Tom Stewart. (For full report see Members page Archive on website). No. of households stands at 405, an increase on last year but a 7% decline from the peak in 2011. Also 28% of households do not pay by standing order – much more time consuming to process. Annual new members joining has decreased a bit over last 6 years.

Noted that almost 20% of households have no email address. Though we are increasing the frequency and range of information (like minutes) on the website, late announcements and reminders regularly go out by email to all those subscribing.

As noted above, an increase in members subscription and recruitment is proposed.

NOTE: the question Tom raised on the report was not dealt with. Possibly raise at next business meeting?

Officers:

Chair – Prue Pullen remains for another year

Vice-chair – VACANT

Secretary and Company Secretary – Sarah Eno stood down. Roles split into 3 and covered by:

Barbara Graham – minutes secretary

Joyce Ambrose – other business secretary (correspondence etc)

Francis Lindsay – Company Secretary

Treasurer – Michael van Beinum

Membership – Tom Stewart

Newsletter – editor Robert Leetham, design & layout Blair Cummock

Literature stall – Catherine Ross

Web-site manager – Nick Prior (can be contacted at )

Advertising/Marketing – a mini group to discuss – RL, NP and DB.

Display Boards & Leaflets – Roberta Carruthers and Blair Cummock

East and West area Event organisers – VACANT

Directors:

Ian Pullen, Sandy Irvine (SE to ask if wishes to resign), Jennifer Britain (remind and ask if wishes to resign), Susan Watts. To be added – Prue Pullen (usually the Chair and Vice Chair are directors), Frances Lindsay.

Directors of the Limited Company are also Trustees of the Charity.

The meeting was closed and the usual excellent lunch was consumed. This was followed by the afternoon discussion.

Borders Organic Gardeners

Business Meeting 2nd November 2014

St Boswells Church Hall

Present

As AGM + Val Hunter

1. Minute of last meeting 21st September 2014 were accepted.

2. Website: Nick Prior has taken over the role of website development and he described his plans and how people can help by providing material for the website. Interesting content is necessary to make the site worth visiting this could include; articles from back issues of the Newsletter, photographs we already have, write ups of garden visits and talks, monthly diary about members gardens (group of people could contribute so that it wouldn’t be necessary to write something every month), more technical notes and videos to demonstrate these (upload to You tube and send link to Nick), list of recommended books, list of local suppliers. We already have RSS feeds for local weather Nick will investigate the possibility of having a garden news feed too. Surveys could be set up easily online and the results used to create news articles to publicise BOG. Facebook and Twitter accounts could be linked to the website content. Lots of short snippets are very good for putting out on social media so people shouldn’t feel they have to write long articles. Most of the information on the site will be publicly available but members will need to sign in to access addresses and contact details for visits. If anyone has difficulties logging in contact Nick via the email address on the website ( ).

3. Jed Eye magazine: Articles for the forthcoming issues;

January – Robert Leetham – Potatoes

March – Barbara Graham – Gardening with children

May – Roberta Carruthers – Perennials from seed

July – David Griggs – Tips for growing vegetables

4 Potato Day: As this year Potato Day only just broke even, ways need to be found to increase the income. The layout of the hall is being looked at to see if there is a way to make room for more stalls. Producers of non-food sustainable products might be invited to take part. Stall holders will be asked to advertise the day on their own websites. The price of the tubers will rise by 1p next year to 15p each. A request for volunteers and potato recipes will be included in the next e-news.

Potato Day team currently comprises – Cheryl Grassam, Susan Watts, Robert Leetham, Keith Banyard, Sarah Eno, Andy Swales, Michael van Beinum, but this is not fixed and others are welcome to join. This group met in 29/10/2014 with Cheryl who, thankfully, is happy to continue to organise the stalls. Minute of this meeting available from Susan Watts.

5. Orchard Project: As a result of thinking about training new fruit tree pruners, Sarah Eno approached by Anna Craigen (has surveyed the orchards of the Borders and has many contacts with orchard owners and community groups. Has many ideas for a development group) about setting up a Borders Orchard Development Group to support orchard growers in the region. Sarah Eno will follow this up.

6. Programme 2014/15:

Pruning workshops are planned for 22nd November Morebattle, 29th (with Greener Melrose) at Dyrgrange, 30th near Yetholm.

Suggestions for visits:

Hunting Hall, Lowick near Berwick (June?)

Willow Plantation at Rothbury to include demonstration of basket making (April?)

Secret Herb Garden near Edinburgh (have been approached awaiting reply)

Over Langshaw Farm, Galashiels (Sarah Eno to investigate)

Nick Prior, Kelso a garden design opportunity

Cheryl Grassam, Ettrick Valley Working day on garden construction?

Plant exchange East 2nd weekend in May hosted by Catherine Ross at Thirlstane to include Business meeting.

Plant exchange West 1st weekend in June hosted by Val Hunter At Oxnam

Mike Murray will approach his son about the possibility of him giving a talk on Farm Africa early in the Spring. It was suggested that this could be widely advertised and non members could be admitted for a fee.

Gardeners Question Time:

It was suggested that BOG might like to host BBC Radio 4’s GQT programme. A hall to seat 150 – 200 people is needed with space to park their large outside broadcast vehicle and a separate room for the team to meet in prior to the recording. Recordings take place on weekday evenings. Possible venues in members local area should be investigated and ideas brought to the next meeting.