Ardentinny Community Trust held its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 31 July, 2012. Established in 2003 and under various stewardships, the Trust has seen through projects from as small as the provision of flower tubs throughout the village to the undertaking of a feasibility study on the transformation of the long hut (since demolished by the Forestry Commission) into a visitors’ centre; the restoration of the Arched Bridge; and the recent purchase of the Grade II Listed Glenfinart Walled Garden, on behalf of the community.
While the Walled Garden is the Trust’s current project, interest in buying and restoring it dates back to 2007 when the Trust organized a ‘Day of Information and Imagination‘ where one of four proposals to be considered by the community was that of the Trust buying the Walled Garden from Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and sourcing funding to restore the Grade II listed wall. Part of the proposal included leasing the garden space to a local company who proposed restoration and use of the garden. The day was attended by Forest Enterprise, The Community Land Unit and the National Park’s Community Future’s Initiative. However, on the day, the Community Land Unit informed both the Trust and FCS that leasing community land to a private enterprise was not permissible and so, sadly, the proposal had to be abandoned before residents could give it their full consideration.
However, in March 2010, FCS advertised the sale of Glenfinart Walled Garden for which the community was given first refusal. In April of that year the Community Council registered interest in the property. As The Community Trust had since completed the process of dissolution due to a lack of board members, the Community Council appointed a Walled Garden Working Group to ascertain the views of residents. This group surveyed every household and collected and collated the results. Residents were asked if they wished the community to buy the garden and, if yes, how they wished to see it used. The majority voted in favour and their suggestions guided the initial business plan. With this result, there was a clear need for a Trust to raise funds and manage the project and so Ardentinny Community Trust was revived in response to that need.
From that point on it was a question of, first, convincing the National Forest Land Scheme Evaluation Panel that Ardentinny had a viable and sustainable plan for the garden; then, sourcing the funding to buy it, which the Trust achieved in September, 2011. All of which, and more, is documented here.
The Trust’s report for this last year includes a variety of fund and awareness-raising activities; sourcing funding for and the appointment of a project development officer and a volunteers’ supervisor and, above all, the successful completion of the purchase of Glenfinart Walled Garden for and on behalf of the community of Ardentinny.
Trust Convenor, Dennis Gower, who has steered the Board of Directors since the Trust’s revival, is stepping down as Convenor but will remain on the Board. Pauline Gordon and Anna Williamson are retiring from the Board while Bill Williamson and Carolyn Elder were proposed and seconded as new Trust Directors. In accordance with the Constitution, office bearers will be elected at the first meeting of the new committee.