> The Seed Box
The Seed Box
The Seed Box
In June 2013 Ballogie Estate co-owner Malcolm Nicol leased the old walled garden on the estate to The Seed Box, a newly established social enterprise.
The Seed Box is the brain child of Belinda Rowlands who, as a keen gardener, saw an opportunity to help those who may not otherwise get the opportunity to work in such a setting. The organisation takes referrals from Aberdeenshire Council's social work department and provides a day service for adults and teens with additional support needs, who are not able to work in mainstream employment. The aim is to improve the emotional and physical health of the service users through horticultural training and outdoor activities.
At The Seed Box, service users are able to undertake meaningful work related activities that help to encourage independence, social rehabilitation as well as life skill training. Such support allows service users to move on to employment, either supported, sheltered or mainstream.
There are now 8 service users who attend between 1 and 5 days per week, with several attending from Aboyne Academy. The pupils are in their final year of school and are in the transition to becoming work-ready. The pupils will be offered the opportunity to continue to attend the Seed Box after they leave school and will receive further support in developing life skills.
The produce grown in the gardens includes fruit, vegetables and flowers. A vegetable bag scheme was trialled late last summer in the village of Ballogie, with 8 seasonal products per week being provided. The trial was successful enough for The Seed Box to begin to offer the community a vegetable box service with an unbeatable 6 food miles – something unthinkable in the supermarket!
Ballogie Estate supports The Seed Box in many ways, not least in charging a rental that is below market value. However, perhaps the biggest support from the Estate comes from the co-operative working that is undertaken to continue to improve the working environment and accessibility for the gardens. The Estate has also carried out improvement work and has supported Belinda and her team with any work they carry out that requires the use of heavy machinery.
Commenting on the success of the enterprise, Malcolm Nicol said: ”I am so pleased that the Seed Box has taken off so well. Having the organisation at Ballogie has meant that our ancient old walled garden is now back in use and life has been brought back to the whole part of the estate occupied by them”. Belinda added:” I am grateful to Malcolm for allowing us to make Ballogie our home. We’re slowly improving our buildings and hope to be able to expand further in the coming months and years”.