Beechbrae was founded in 2013 and is based at Beechbrae Wood on the north edge of Blackridge, West Lothian. Working to combine a social and environmental focus, Beechbrae provides holistic woodland management as well provides practical training about to use the land sustainably. The business aims and objectives are to:
- Supply fresh quality produce & services
- Equip the local community with practical skills, knowledge & confidence
- Increase the biodiversity of the local area
The first project started in the wood was to plant and establish Beechbrae Orchard funded by the Central Green Scotland Network. Receiving help from the P6 and P7 classes at Blackridge Primary School 12 apple trees were planted. Since then they have received other funding from the CSGN Orchard Futures Fund and Enterprise Ready Fund amongst others. They also have income from selling Christmas Trees in December and their own produce such as honey and potatoes. They will soon be selling beer, cider and wine brewed locally from the berries, fruit and leaves grown in the Beechbrae Orchard and Wood.
The founders Ally and Kevin Aiken bring passion, knowledge and skills of sustainable woodland management with them to Beechbrae. Allison has training in organic fruit tree care and management, permaculture, silviculture & woodland management and is a fully qualified ground based chainsaw operator. Kevin has received training in horticulture from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, organic orchard care & management and permaculture design certificate. They have recently received funding from the Climate Challenge Fund which has allowed them to employ Ally as a full-time Project Manager for one year to develop the Beechbrae Community Garden and Blackridge Primary School’s Growing Spaces projects.
Photos © Ally Aiken