Chair’s Round Up – Summer 2023

It seems a long way off now but thank you for all those that crowded into the James Milne Institute in Findhorn Village for our AGM.  It was a wonderful celebration of our achievements showing how we have been maturing as an organisation whose work is appreciated by many.  Special thanks goes to the team that helped set up the evening and to Timothy Finnigan, chair of the Findhorn Dunes Trust, for making the effort to attend.  This helps maintain the important links between the two organisations.  It was particularly lovely to have a little celebratory social afterwards outside by the piers and the bay on a sunny summer’s evening.

230627 Draft Findhorn Plan (1)

Change is definitely in the air here in the Park Ecovillage Findhorn. The Findhorn Foundation is on a course to close operations by the 1st October and Duneland Ltd, which has been developing the Whins site over the last 26 years, is looking to finish its work and disband as a company by next year.  One of the questions being asked is: how will these huge changes affect the Findhorn Hinterland Trust?  As chair of the Trust I have been very much involved in the discussions around change.  Particularly in the Collaboration Circle, a gathering of leaders of stakeholder organisations that has met in various forms every second month at the Park over the last five years.  Also as part of the Development Committee (DevCom) a group that was set up more than two years ago to meet weekly and look at the physical development of the ecovillage.  What has become clear is that the FHT is seen as a highly regarded, well set up and organised charity with a great track record that does excellent work on the wild land surrounding the ecovillage.  As such it has been approached both by the Findhorn Foundation and Duneland Ltd with regards to the possibility of the FHT taking on ownership of the land that they presently possess.  The discussions are at an early stage but this is an exciting new development that could open up unseen possibilities – watch this space and let’s see how this all develops!

Forres Academy Biology Field Trip

As for other plans there is a Dune Restoration project that the FHT is looking to work on this winter with Sean Reed a local ecologist who has been employed to take a lead in helping us deliver this important piece of work. This is a clear and responsible  step the trust is making towards ensuring the biodiversity of our rare dune habitats are conserved as well as enhanced and will involve various ways over the coming months of explaining to others in the local area what we intend to do and why we have chosen to embark on this significant intervention.

On the ground there have been a number of educational activities happening this quarter including the very successful Forres Academy Biology field trip event in June involving almost 50 pupils which we have now established as an annual event.  Another was experienced educator Roy Simpson delivering the first of his Sharing Nature with Children day workshops (see articles on both elsewhere).  I attended the latter as I had had this training back in the 70’s and found that it had given me such useful tools to awaken awareness of the natural world in such a fun way for children and adults alike.  It will be put on again on the 16th of September and I would recommend it to anyone be they parent, teacher or simply someone wishing to gain greater awareness of their environment.  Disappointingly other educational offerings such as Alan and Heather’s biodiversity day and Kajedo’s weeklong retreat did not run as they did not book although Kajedo did run a modified Sacred Ways workshop back in June we trust that the repeat scheduled for the 23rd September will be a success. 

Roy and the Sharing Nature workshop

With regards to further  exploring the land’s biodiversity front, Alan Watson Featherstone arranged a visit by Joe Botting, a specialist in true bugs, to carry out a survey on the land in parallel with work being done in Forres for the Forres Friends charity which allowed us to share the expense.  Alan will no doubt report on this in the next newsletter.  In the meantime there was a group of four lepidopterists from the south of England who carried out moth surveys in both Wilkies Wood and the dunes in early August with some interesting finds that you can read about elsewhere.

Chris Wilkinson (r) and collaegue with moth trap, Findhorn Hinterland

As Kajedo mentions in his article, the camping pads and green burial space have been well used for celebrations and events over the summer which included this year’s Mid- Summer happening complete with fire, food, four piece ceilidh band and Scottish country dancing in the big marquee.  A huge thank you to everyone who helped put this together.

Mid Summer Celebration Band

One disappointing piece of news is to do with our FHT Apiary: our bees have been having a hard time which started in May with the loss of a couple of hives due to cold weather and although we were able to produce many artificial swarms to help increase the number of hives, many of the new queens did not make it and all but two hives have very little honey in them.  This is so surprising for this time of the year and will mean that there will be only a small harvest for humans, some hives will need to be united to have a chance of surviving the winter and all will no doubt need some feeding to help them through to next spring.  Let’s hope for a better season for bees next year.

There have been one or two enquiries about long term committed volunteers that may be eligible to use our elegant Shepherds Hut and Bell Tent with wood stove but no one has firmly taken up the offer yet.  We are still looking for the right people – please spread the word. 

There are no doubt other important happenings that I have missed but I think that is enough for just now and leaves me to wish you a pleasant rest of the summer and a glorious autumn as the earth cools and the light dims.  May you enjoy and take sustenance from the special land that surrounds us.


Jonathan Caddy

FHT Chair

15th August 2023   

AGM Refreshments and social

AGM refreshments and social

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Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB