Balerno - Our Vibrant Village

by Suzanne Green

Konect Balerno February 2017

If you want to live in a vibrant community, sometimes you have to do something to make that happen,” says Emma Galloway, Vice Chair of Balerno Village Trust (BVT).

The Trust is the development arm of Balerno Community Council, and aims to make Balerno a good place to live, work and visit.

“A village trust can focus on getting a community active,” says Emma, “and can concentrate on developing assets such as community buildings or establishing a Farmer’s Market.”

BVT Apple Day
Balerno Village Trust's Apple Day

The BVT’s first project was the Farmer’s Market, set up in 2005. Held on Main Street, on the second Saturday of the month (except for January), it offers a range of products and an opportunity for neighbours to catch up with one another. Emma, who is responsible for the monthly event, makes it a point to buy her fruit and vegetables at the Market. “If we want the vendors to continue to come, we have to support them,” she comments. “So I am intentional about doing my shopping at the Farmer’s Market on Market Day.”

As well as fresh produce, you can buy speciality cheeses and chocolate, sourdough bread and marshmallows. You’ll find sausages, bacon, preserves, cakes and peri-peri sauce. And if you want to have lunch there, you can enjoy burgers, sausage rolls, cappuccinos and lattes. There are also many decorative and non-edible products on offer.

“We’re all so busy that we don’t always see our neighbours,” says Emma. “But the Market gets us out of the house and gives us the opportunity to get to know one another. Main Street is buzzing on Market Day normally about 500 to 600 people attend!”

Speaking of buzzing, did you know that the BVT has two bee colonies? Eventually they hope to see the production of Balerno Honey. The Trust’s annual events include “Apple Day”, which takes place in November. Villagers are encouraged to pick their apples, which are then pressed to make delicious apple juice (including a mulled version). There’s an apple pie competition too. In March “Tattie Day” encourages locals to grow potatoes, which are then sold in packs of five.

Last May 25 villagers entered the Scarecrow Competition. Entrants paid five pounds for a bag of straw and some scarecrow-making materials. And gradually scarecrows started appearing in people’s gardens. “The purpose of this event is to encourage everyone to get out, take a walk and appreciate not just the scarecrows but also our beautiful village,” Emma explains. Last year’s winner was Caitlin Boddy, with her sunbathing scarecrow.


GET INVOLVED!

The BVT is also working with the National Trust to develop Malleny Garden. “It’s a lovely property with a Georgian wing,” says Emma. “There are beautiful yew trees and benches where you can sit in the summer. But it’s underutilised. The National Trust will be putting on a few Fun Days, including an Easter Egg Hunt, and we’re asking for volunteers to help with revitalising the vegetable plots.

Another project is working with the City of Edinburgh Council to replant the flower beds on Main Street. “Instead of corporate shrubbery, they will be cottage gardens,” says Emma. “Foxgloves and really pretty plants … rather than the standard green shrubs.” The Trust is asking local businesses to adopt a flower bed and to be responsible for watering, weeding and maintaining it.

The BVT is a founding partner of Harlaw Hydro. Through this scheme a turbine, located behind the Ranger’s Centre at Harlaw Reservoir, sends a flow of water from the reservoirs to the Water of Leith, generating electricity in the process. The Trust has recently completed a community consultation, asking people how they would like the funds from this project to be used.

Although the government has provided funding for the past three years, that is coming to an end soon and the Trust will need to find ways to raise funds. Each of the eight Board members takes responsibility for a different project. There are a number of volunteers, but more would be very welcome! “We try to make the various activities bite-sized, so that busy people can take part,” says Emma.

“The real question is what kind of community do you want to be part of? Are you happy for Balerno to be a dormitory town, or do you want to live in an active, thriving village?”


Find out more about the BVT at www.balernovt.org.uk and see the Facebook pages for Balerno Village Trust and Balerno Farmer’s Market.

© Lothian Publications Ltd