£104,000 boost creates job and secures Hawick garden’s future

Karen Birch from Abundant Borders at Hawick's community garden near the Salvation Army base.
Karen Birch from Abundant Borders at Hawick's community garden near the Salvation Army base.

The charity responsible for transforming a Hawick wasteland into a community garden is ready to start educating scores more green-fingered volunteers, thanks to a £104,278 grant.

Abundant Borders has been given that cash boost by the National Lottery’s Scottish community fund and will plough most of it into its Hawick garden, behind the Salvation Army Shop in High Street.

Karen Birch from Abundant Borders at Hawick's community garden near the Salvation Army base.

Karen Birch from Abundant Borders at Hawick's community garden near the Salvation Army base.

Abundant Borders chief officer Karen Birch said: “This is by far the most significant piece of funding we have had to date.

“This will give us a degree of security for the next three years.”

“What we are looking to do is to really build a network of community food gardens across the region as a means of addressing food poverty ultimately.

“We are working in partnership with the Salvation Army as a direct contact to those in the town and immediate area who are using food banks.

“They are offered fresh produce grown in the garden as well as the chance to volunteer in the garden and grow the food themselves.

“Our training courses then teach groups of up to 15 people how to grow the food and how to cook it.”

The funding boost guarantees the future of the Reston-based charity for the next three years and means it can offer a further 90 Teries places on food growing and cooking courses over that time.

The Hawick garden, leased by the charity on a five-year rolling contract, will eventually be handed over to the community, but until then this cash will also help fund a three-year garden leader post.

Karen added: “Because these are community food gardens, they really are a community asset, so over time we continue to support them but the community take them on themselves.

“We try to use neglected, underused land, so we are also restoring a piece of land to community value.

“The land in Hawick was really overgrown, and we took it on and made it food-producing.

“Because it is so big and has so many volunteers, this new post will help us move towards community ownership.”

Applications for the new job the funding has created need to be submitted to karen@abundantborders.org.uk by Friday, February 22.

Two previously established gardens at the old high school and the allotments in Eyemouth as well as one at Bush Burn in Ayton will also benefit from the grant, but the majority of it will be ploughed into the Hawick garden.

This funding is part of a £1.4m handout from the National Lottery shared between 16 community projects this months.