Trustees Review November 2016
2015-6 was a very busy year for ACLI with the successful submission of plans for a community garden, allotments, polytunnels and hub. Grants, secured by Rachel Sedman, ACLI Funding Officer, came in and gave the project further momentum. 4 part-time sessional workers were appointed in April to take responsibility for delivering teaching elements of the project and Pippa’s contract as Project Manager was renewed for a further year thanks to funding from the Climage Challenge Fund and the Robertson Trust. Additional funding from Community Food & Health Scotland, the Postcode Local Trust and D’Oyly Carte, meant that establishing these plans could become a reality. It’s hard to believe how much has been achieved in the space of one year: the community garden, 12 allotments, a bee-keeping area, an orchard, a whitebeam tree area, the opening up and use of the quarry, paths and tracks made and repaired, taps installed, two polytunnels plus a hub building – our thanks goes to all those who have volunteered on the land especially Andy McNamara for bringing up school groups from the Arran Outdoor Education Centre to plant the orchard and protect the trees with deer-proof cages. The session workers, Jenny and Andy MacDonald, Ceilidh Keyworth and Matt Searles have been working hard to deliver a staggering range of workshops: making your own natural beauty products, green woodworking, composting through to using pallets, successful veg. growing and kids activities. There is now a regular kids club on the first Saturday of the month and a group from Arran High School visit each week with Matt Searles for outdoor learning. Unfortunately there were not enough takers for the advertised UHI horticultural course to take place this year on the land but we hope that with further marketing by Argyll College and more evidence of infrastructure such as the polytunnels and a warm indoor meeting place, this will start to happen in 2017.
Plans for Future Periods
We invited local experts to carry out baseline surveys of all flora and fauna over the last year and there are now plans to develop part of the upper site with a walkers’ path and bird hide overlooking the ‘wilderness’ reedy area. This area will be left as undisturbed as possible to encourage wildlife and it is hoped that wildlife walks could be provided. Two large fields will be mown for hay with a view to creating income from much-needed hay for local pony-owners. Pippa now sends out a monthly newsletter and there are plans to continue hosting visiting school groups particularly those that are interested in conservation work and the John Muir Award. There are plans for further tree-planting with deer-proof enclosures. The lower fields are now rented out with 6 pony lets in total. There is no further space for pony lets. Perhaps thoughts need to now turn to further income streams as the project strives to become more self-sufficient. Data will be collected on carbon-savings (results of composting and food growing) and submitted to the Climate Challenge Fund. Pippa’s role up to March 2017 is now to manage the sessional workers timetable and to submit claims and reports to the Climate Challenge Fund. It is hoped that with further successful funding bids she will continue in her part-time role as Project Manager through to 2018 and oversee the improvements of the site’s infrastructure as well as being the main contact for visiting groups. Trustees continue to meet twice monthly and welcome any input from ACLI members. They endeavour to support Pippa and take on some additional tasks of grant form-filling, accounts, publicity and planning.
Following a successful ‘Strategy Day’ for the Trustees in September 2015 and last month’s AGM (2015), we are pleased to present some key objectives relating to longer terms plans for the land, as discussed amongst the membership.
These are of course a ‘work in progress’ are will evolve over time with input from the community at large as well as the Members and Trustees. They should be considered rough targets rather than objectives ‘set in stone’.
However, if you follow the link below you will be able see our principal hoped-for outcomes over the coming years, broken down by the areas of Income Generation; Educational, Training & Volunteering; and Environmental and Health Benefits.