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Member of the Month: Bridgend Farmhouse 

For this month’s SCCAN Member of the Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the amazing work undertaken at Bridgend Farmhouse in Edinburgh. Luisa Brown, Skills Development Coordinator at Bridgend Farmhouse, shares an insight into some of the many initiatives and working ethos of the organisation, as well as the community spirit that underpins and motivates it all. 


Tell us about your organisation/community group. 

Bridgend Farmhouse is a community owned and run charitable organisation in south Edinburgh with a mission to ensure our now renovated farmhouse exists as a sustainable community-owned centre for learning, eating and exercise, where all can learn, work and grow together to develop a flourishing community and place.

Can you share with us some of the community climate action you undertake. 

Community climate action is built into the business planning of Bridgend Farmhouse and is underpinned by three strategic priorities. 

  • Enhanced community spirit 
  • Operational sustainability 
  • Environmental sustainability 

Everything we do is driven by environmental sustainability from improving the energy efficiently of the farmhouse to training a minimum of 80% of our staff in carbon literary, as well as implementing carbon pledges across all areas of activity. 

To share some examples of what that means in action. We offer a programme of environmentally friendly workshops and activities including wood and craft workshops as well as bike maintenance, forest school and inclusive play to name a few. We have recently finished our eco bothy. A space built from straw bales mostly by volunteers which includes a compost toilet and is available to rent. 

We are also proud of our community garden and café, through which we address food poverty with dignity. We thrive on our circular model using only our home-grown food and supermarket surplus, again with food waste feeding our composting systems and in turn feeding the food we grow again and again. This keeps our food affordable and nutritious for the community whilst leaving a very light carbon footprint. As well as serving nutritious food through the café we aim to develop our volunteers by tapping into skills they didn’t know they had and harness latent energy for the benefit of the community.

We apply this ethos of upskilling and harnessing the collective will power and intelligence of community across the whole organisation and have been told time again how much this means to people living locally. It helps that we’re located in a beautiful setting between woodlands and near Criagmillar castle.  Our the natural beauty of our location helps people forget about the stresses of home when they are here.

We also work with partner enterprises to deliver some activity such as cycle training and bike hire which is all focused around our Bike Barn. 

What’s the one community climate action you’ve undertaken that you think had the most impact?  

For us it’s all about being an exemplar circular model and demonstrating to wider society that a better way of life is possible with a smaller carbon footprint. At Bridgend Farmhouse we do things together and show the power of community and a lifestyle that is possible when you harness that. We are a hub that brings people together in order to realise how to live more lightly within a collective. 

What story from your community would you like to share? 

All my friends sit at home.”

Quote from a young volunteer 

At Bridgend Farmhouse we place wellbeing at the heart of the organisation, above profits and I’d like to share the story of a young volunteer who came to work in our café. This volunteer left school as soon as they were able with limited qualifications even though they are very bright. They found returning to school following the pandemic very challenging, despite being a positive and outgoing person. When they began to volunteer with us in a Front of House position in our café they had no previous experience and low confidence. However over the course of the seven months they volunteered with us they were committed, provided excellent customer service and became inspired to undertake their own learning. By the end of their time with us they received an Award of Recognition and had earned a place at Edinburgh College. 

We witness similar journeys of those who volunteer with us, in our café, garden or elsewhere within the organisation, all of the time. 

What’s your advice/tips for other community groups wanting to start to take collective action against a changing climate?  

With Bridgend Farmhouse we endeavoured to create a project where there is a place for people at the heart of it and to bring them along with us. We believe in walking the talk of community action against climate change and simply getting on with the job in an open, interesting and welcoming way. There is no doing it alone and through operating by example we hope people can see how things can be done and how this can reflect in their own lives. We live by the idea that setting an example creates behavioural change and will bring people along with you. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

We believe that the wellbeing of the world starts with wellbeing within. This starts with how we feed ourselves. We see a health improvement in people who come to Bridgend Farmhouse – both physical and mental – and the impact we are having in people’s lives. As well as the savings that can be made across healthcare and other services through this type of work. 

Keep in touch

Website | https://www.bridgendfarmhouse.org.uk

Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/BridgendFarmhouse

Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/bridgendfarmhse/