01 April 2024


Our building renovation projects are quietly progressing with the Comielaw unit being plaster-boarded at the moment. Since the space is to be used by a yarn processor – it would be mad not to have used sheep’s wool insulation in the build. Thermafleece, a UK based company in the Lake District, processed in Yorkshire and using exclusively British Wool, we are delighted to be supporting a business which promotes natural fibres. This natural insulation uses the lower quality wool from hardy sheep and has been treated with borax to prevent insects making it their home. It is breathable and at the end of its life when a building is renovated again, it has almost zero waste as it can be composted – and the builders love it.

Balcormo Farm has seen the tin cladding completed on the old brick buildings, to insulate and provide long term weather proofing. The next phase is to install all of the underground services, this meant finding the main “Cundie” drain, which carried water away from the old mill wheel. After pouring over old maps, making assumptions and head scratching – we resorted to the old divining technique of a few pieces of bent fence wire and some faith. This ancient skill is hard to explain, but when our forebears dug with spades, they must have trusted it. Now with modern diggers, we are less trusting in “non-science”, but the fact is, it does work – sometimes more accurately than others admittedly!

It might be hard to get enthused, even if it is Easter, but the first signs of growth are already visible. The gardens at Balcaskie, with south facing terraces and warm, sheltered spaces provides the earliest indications. With a growing season over 4 weeks longer at the lowest to the highest point on the estate, it is encouraging to see that spring is coming.

Last month we were enjoying seeing the old hedges being laid in a traditional age old manner. The only jarring part of this was the modern rubbish at the base of the hedges which became visible when the hedge was cut. So some of the team have been busy litter picking along the roadsides, collecting the hundreds of drink bottles, cans and plastic food wrappers. Filling half a skip in a morning, it is hard not to wonder who is throwing this rubbish out of the window and how to prevent it.

 Bowhouse Classroom is up and running with regular workshops and events using the space. Situated in the courtyard, the classroom is designed to provide a hub for learning and doing all things natural/food/drink/land. On the walls are some great visual explanations of how and why we do things at Balcaskie and how they link to the landscape and communities.


The Balcaskie Wetlands Project, a partnership with Balcarres, Balcaskie, Forth Rivers Trust and Anstruther Improvements Association, have completed the first phase. Planting over 700 trees along the banks of the Dreel Burn to provide shading, slowing runoff and preventing erosion, a team of 65 volunteers through Footprints East Neuk managed complete the job in a morning. The digger then arrived to create the scrapes for wading birds, block ditches and divert a watercourse into an area which was once a bog. The result was spectacularly quick, and the “Blackwood” became the “Blackpond” overnight. The next phase will be to install the leaky dams to slow the waterflow. But this is somewhat of a challenge at the moment when the flow is pretty rapid. So time and patience will have to prevail.

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