The Knowe Garden beat vandals and wins an Award

After arriving to a devastating scene on Wednesday the team were elated to win Best Community Garden or Green Space on Friday evening.

Staff at The Knowe Community Garden Centre were devastated when they arrived at work on the morning of Wednesday 20th November 2019. A group of vandals had rolled a large wire cable drum, which was waiting to be upcycled into a garden table, into the seating area of the Sensory Garden. This resulted in the bench being almost destroyed.

The scene was very disheartening for the staff and volunteers who put in so much effort to keep the garden, which is run by Auchinleck Community Development Initiative, looking its best.

The team was delighted however when their photographs on Facebook resulted in a neighbouring project in Netherthird, NCAT, offering to help. A big thank-you to them and local man David Hannah who put the bench back together and Pollock’s Farm Equipment for the offer of parts. Thus showing what can be done ‘with a little help from our friends’.

With that low point now behind them, Meg Sharp, Horticultural Trainer, and Kaye Hannah, Garden Centre Manager, travelled down to London for the Groundwork Community Awards 2019. Having scrubbed up and left dirty wellies behind in Auchinleck, the ladies checked into the venue for the awards, the luxurious Royal Horseguards Hotel!

At the award ceremony, Kaye and Meg were delighted, if a little shocked, to accept the award of ‘Best Community Garden or Green Space’.

“We’re elated to have won our second award this year,” said Kaye – the team had already won Best Community Garden in Shire Housing’s Competition. “I am delighted for our Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, local nursery children and school pupils who all contributed to our success,” she continued, “We’re really grateful for everyone who took the time to vote.”

Garden Volunteers Sophie Leitch (left) and Jordan Whiteford (centre) and Events & Activities Co-ordinator Stuart Mitchell (right) with the award

Receiving the award energised the team, which they needed for the busy week ahead of them as they took delivery of 500 young trees when they arrived back to work on Monday morning! They received these trees free thanks to the initiative ‘I Dig Trees’ led by The Conservation Volunteers in partnership with OVO Energy. OVO support this campaign as trees, or ‘wooden wonders’ as they call them, literally eat carbon out of the air! OVO is on a journey with their members to reach zero-carbon living, and trees are helping them get there.

In the same week The Knowe joined the Winter Resilience Initiative with East Ayrshire Council who have supplied PPE and equipment to help grit paths and clear snow and ice from the area around the garden.

The celebrations continued with one of The Knowe’s volunteers, Jordan Whiteford receiving his John Muir Discovery Award. He is well on his way to achieving his Explorer Award. The awards scheme is operated by the John Muir Trust and encourages people to connect with, enjoy, and care for wild places. The environmental award scheme is for people of all ages and is non-competitive, inclusive and accessible.

Jordan Whiteford (right), Garden Volunteer, accepts his John Muir Award from Stuart Mitchell (left), Events & Activities Co-ordinator

Future plans at The Knowe include classes for Auchinleck Primary to come along and plant some of the trees as well as some bulbs. Funding for the bulbs came from the Co-op who funded The Knowe to deliver engagement activities with local schoolchildren. We think this clearly demonstrates that in spite of setbacks, the power of partnership working is making Auchinleck a nicer place to live.

The Knowe Garden Centre in line for an award

We’re delighted to announce that our project The Knowe Garden Centre has been shortlisted for a prestigious award from Groundwork Community Awards which is sponsored by a number of well-known businesses including Tesco. The charity works together to transform lives in disadvantaged communities across the UK and ‘The Knowe’ is one of only 3 finalists in the Community Garden or Green Space category – chosen from among 750 applicants and covering ten categories.  In addition the project could be in with a chance of winning the ‘People’s Choice Award’ which is voted for by the public and this is where they need your help.

Garden Centre Manager Kaye Hannah explains:

 ACDI are absolutely thrilled to be nominated as a Groundwork Community Awards finalist. To be recognised by an independent external organisation provided great satisfaction to our organisation, staff, and most of all the community we serve. What we have achieved over the last two years has meant a lot of hard work and we are grateful to our partners including the Coal Industry Regeneration Trust and our local Tesco store who provided finance and support.

We would love to win the People’s Choice Award and we would like to invite the residents of Auchinleck and surrounding area to vote for us. They can do this by going online to and clicking through to the survey where they can select us.

Kaye and Horticultural Trainer, Meg Sharp, Will be at the award ceremony on 21st November so get those votes in!