Past Events

What’s been going on? 

We're really sorry......

...... but you missed out on these great events!

Here you will find our ‘back calendar’, preserving a unique list of events that we have organised, been involved with, supported or that have been going on in our DG8 area….. because it’s nice to be able to reminisce isn’t it? This is also the place to read any attendee experiences, and see more photos, so you can see what you missed out on! 


If you attended any of these events and have anything to add, or share about your experiences, including any photographs, please get in touch with us! 

This year…

On the 4th of June Bee Positive had an Open Garden event at Seymour House, Port William. Here is a short film giving a tiny flavour of the day, made by MAC-CAN member and volunteer Chris. Hope you enjoy it

On Sunday we had another successful members of MAC-CAN (and friends) beach clean in Garlieston, this time at Rigg Bay, with thanks to Galloway House Gardens for transporting the bags/bulky waste up to be uplifted.


Thanks to everyone who came along to help tackle the litter – we are sure to be back, as unfortunately the bay captures plenty of marine litter, which breaks down into microplastics. Plus as it is such a beautiful spot there’s a guarantee of errant littering too.
It was a glorious day for it anyway!

Excellent work this morning filling and planting up the community planters today outside South Machars Community Centre – Whithorn 🙌

We shovelled, we wheelbarrowed, we lifted, we planted, we watered… and the weather was lovely. We even made use of two chairs before they got donated to the ReUse Shop 😅
Big thanks to all the people that came along to help Sheralyn, Alwyn, Mick, Linda, Lin, Sam, Martin, Lucy and Thia plus the folks that came to chat for moral support ☺️
Big thanks also to those who have donated plants and cuttings to us too. Some we put in today, others will be brought back when rooted and some are being sold to raise funds 💚
Incredible Edible Whithorn 

This second soil specific event, despite the venue changing, still went ahead and had a more personal touch. 


Due to the weather farmers were busy cutting grass for silage etc., so the event was relocated to MAC-CAN HQ in Whithorn and had a focus on the link with the Kenyan farmers. There was much discussion and sharing of practices through a very successful video link! 



“It really was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning”

From our side, Gill and other Croft volunteers could show and talk about:

  1. An area of “no dig” – where the soil is not tilled and the idea is to conserve soil moisture and nutrients
  2. The compost area – the Croft’s soils are very thin so the composting is especially important for even making soil !
  3. A small forest garden – for biodiversity
  4. The polytunnel – growing seasons are short, so this extends the growing season

… and the Kenyan farmers wanted to discuss:

  1. ‘Given our soils’ low fertility in the Likia area, how can we compare organic and inorganic farming methods to determine the best way to improve soil health?
  2. In light of the climate change crisis, how can we effectively manage pests and diseases while maintaining organic farming practices?
  3. How can we manage and reduce post-harvest losses?
  4. What value addition processes do you apply to your products after harvest in your farming operations?
  5. What are your seed selection and breeding processes.
  6. How are you organized as a community, how do you solve conflicts amongst yourselves and how do you interact with other organic and inorganic farmers?
Plus community refrigeration; where most people get their food from in SW Scotland (supermarkets); new foods; food storage and reducing food waste; managing low production and also sudden gluts of produce; value addition; pollination; the experimental nature of The Croft and farming in general; weather (here it is wet winters and short summers); thinking thirty years ahead 0- what about water storage and management.

A very small team of volunteers came together today for a few hours to get the community planters in place at the front of South Machars Community Centre – Whithorn



A great start to a new project aiming to not only brighten up the place, but also support pollinators and provide accessible, free food and herbs. 



The volunteers also set up the compost bins and food caddies have been installed inside so the centre can start making its own compost! 



23 (plus) people enjoyed the swap event today – thanks for coming (and to the few extra people who popped in to have a peek what was going on after the majority of the swapping had been done and folks had gone!) 😅

 Lots of happy people and exchanges made ♻️ and quite a few new faces joined in today which is always lovely! 

Welcome to the big South Machars Crop Swaps family 💚
Some of things we swapped today …
Lily of the valley plants
Cauliflower plants
Cut flowers
Empty jars
Chutney and jam
Home made cake
Gardening books
Succulent houseplants
Plant food sachets
Tomato plants
Flower seedlings

A very enjoyable, well attended Clothes Swap at Number 12 in Port William on a very cold wet ‘n’ windy day.



Much food for thought and fun had by all at LOBSTER POT LUCK – A Day of Ocean Plastic Exploration at the brilliant South Machars Community Centre – Whithorn.
Inspired by noticing a niche for lobster creel plastic reuse locally, this event launched a DG Climate Hub – created photographic Glossary of Reusable Creel Plastics, which is intended to help beach cleaners identify creel parts that have come off during storms. Harbour Masters in Kirkcudbright, Whithorn, Port Patrick and Stranraer will act as drop off points, from whom lobster fishermen can source their replacements rather than buying new.
It was great to meet members of beach cleaning groups – O N Us South West Scotland, D&G Eco warrior cleans, Captain Paul Watson Foundation, Stranraer Coastal Rowing Club & Wigtown Bay Coastal Rowing Club – and to be able to thank them for their tireless work.
Solway Firth Partnership ‘s Nic Coomby is someone who regularly gathers bag loads. His talk took us on the journeys and across the distances that ocean plastics travel and invited us to consider responsibility.
5th generation Whithorn lobster fisherman John Mcguire of Sassenach Seafoods shared stories about his livelihood, family history and the changes in creel making. Then he and SMCC manager Becki Castle served us a delicious lunch of crab chowder and lobster crostini made from his catch.
After lunch we got creative with ocean plastics – even the vases on the tables were made from creel parts (top entrance and door hooks)! Rose Petal Hall EcoArt ran a plastic art workshop which yielded some wondrous creations, while Leverhulme Trust researcher Anna Wilson ran a creative writing workshop, imagining these plastics as starting points for stories.
To close, the Scottish Wildlife Trust film Oceans of Value invited us to consider our relationship with the sea around us and what we can do to protect it.
DG Climate Hub 

The DG Climate Hub created a Glossary of Reusable Creel Plastics and launched it at their March #LobsterPotLuck event. This is intended to help beach cleaners identify creel parts that detach during storms and get washed up on the beaches. Lobster fishermen can reuse these rather than buying new, reducing plastic waste and production if we can close the circle together.



We’re very grateful to the harbour masters at Kirkcudbright, Whithorn, Port William and Stranraer for volunteering to be drop off/ collection points so that neither beach cleaning groups nor fishermen have to travel far to make this happen.



If you find any of these parts on your beach cleans, please contact the harbour master nearest to you to arrange drop off (see contact details below).

Great haul of litter collected from the woodland and beach along the track to Eggerness in Garlieston this afternoon. This is our second year of efforts here during Keep Scotland Beautiful’s annual campaign that runs in April.


Our team of 10 today focussed on clearing more of the historic rubbish and minimising more recent marine litter in this area of natural beauty that is enjoyed by many.

A live link with farmers in Kenya provided an exciting and thought-

provoking start to the day. Thanks to Scott Jones from Mind the Gap and
MAC-CAN trustee for organising this and of course to Joseph and the other
farmers who took the time to show us what they were growing and share
the challenges they face. The farms are in the rift valley, 7000 feet up,
west of Naorobi. Deforestation has caused problems – degrading the soil

and drying up the rivers.

Gilbert – professor. Looks forward to exchange of ideas with growers in

Scotland to tackle challenges of climate change.

Joseph who grows a variety of crops without using any chemicals, talked
through his seed trial. (ADD PHOTO IF POSSIBLE) He digs a ditch, adding
layers of compost, manure and spent crops, before covering with more
compost to retain moisture, then spreading soil over the top. His crops do
very well even in dry periods, attracting interest from neighbouring
farmers who want to learn how they too could produce so much a from a
small space. They have also reduced what he called “lifestyle diseases”,

because people are eating organic crops.

We then met Alice, who has a mixed ¼ acre farm. She mixes manure from
her dairy cattle with compost to use for growing potatoes. This means she
doesn’t have to buy in fertiliser and gets milk from the cows for household
Joseph’s seed store includes different type of potato including one which
matures in 2 months and another which doesn’t require a lot of water. He
keeps bean and pea seed s seed in old whisky bottles collected from litter
picks around the village and makes it available to local farmers. We heard
their fears about the negative impact of genetically modified seed by multi-national companies. 

17th February in Wigtown – MAC-CAN’s mini deep-dive into the earth beneath our feet!

The first of two events this year that MAC-CAN has organised to engage people with soil and soil health. It was a sell-out and was a fascinating day. 

Look out for the next one, coming up in May! 



Here’s a report about the day, from Trustee Helen


30 of us gathered at the Print Room in Wigtown on 17 February for MAC-CAN’s soil project, introduced by Mary who reminded us that this was the 4th birthday of the organisation. Thanks to funding from Dumfries and Galloway Climate Hub, the aim of the day was to inspire people to take more action to nurture
and protect our soils.

Here are some quotes from some of the Kenyan farmers who joined us through the live link!



“It was very good to meet the people in Scotland, to discuss climate and the weather and show you how we manage our soil. I hope we can share more again and come to Scotland to see how you farm” Joseph



“It was good to be able to show you my farm and my animals. Thank you for listening to my situation. I hope we can meet one day.” Grace



“We are grateful for the chance to meet and ask the Lord to bless our meeting and the chance to meet again. It was interesting how much we have in common. Thank you.” Farmer who ended our meeting with a closing prayer

What do we have in common?

Altitude is substitute for latitude, meaning we can grow similar potato varieties. Although we don’t have the heat and drought they face in Kenya, the settlement pattern of dispersed villages is similar to Galloway.  

From potato sales MAC-CAN raised over £650 for the Food Train!


Big thanks to all this years’ Tattie Team and the groups/individuals that contributed to such a great day as well as the Food Train volunteers. 

The Rhinns Seed Library

Galloway Apple Project

South Machars Crop Swaps

Bee Positive

Machars Abundance

Big thanks to all the 17 of us that ventured out today to Whauphill for our first swap of the year. The hall was pleasantly full of chatter and laughter, as people socialised over hot drinks and snacks. Seeds were swapped as well as jars, jams, last year’s squash, garden plants, skills and knowledge etc. People found out more about local initiatives and clothes were swapped too!
Everyone who came along said it was a very nice event. Thank you to Cree Valley Clothes Swaps,  Machars Abundance and Bee Positive for joining in! 


Mary opened our gathering, with a speech including background to MAC-CAN quoting UN Secretary General 2023 – ‘’Our world needs climate action on all fronts.’’ Mary noted all the great work going on in Machars and further on climate action. Mary’s message was to celebrate the work underway and to encourage us to support each other and work in partnership with others.

We then had a few speakers talking to the audience gathered about their projects, as well as having information on them on the stalls around the room. 

Speakers were: 

Lynn from ONUS

Mandy from Kilsture Forest Community Group

Chris & Nicola speaking about The MAC-CAN Croft

Clothes Swaps Report by Trustee Fiona, read by Jenna. 

Gill telling everyone about a new project called Bee Positive (was B-Lines at the time) 

Followed by some group activities related to energy and the new D&G Climate Hub, before the AGM was held. 

One of our Trustees Rebecca is renovating a building in Port William so it can be used as a community space. This Apple Day was the first event to be held there, in its current form, and was a great opportunity for people to share their ideas for what the space can be used for! 

What a fantastic opportunity for the community and surrounding area. 

What a fantastic day! We would like to thank everyone who came to our first open day. Thank you for everyone’s ideas for the space.


Fun time on Sunday 15th October celebrating Apple Day at MAC-CAN Croft in Whithorn. Lots of apples juiced, Crops swapped thanks to South Machars Crop Swaps, tools serviced at our popular tools maintenance station and good blether. As always, lovely to see people old and new and a big thanks to our fabulous team of volunteers for making it all happen.



6/7th October – new sustainable food festival for The Machars is a huge success!

What an amazing weekend that was!!
Our very first FOOD FESTIVAL event went off with an absolute bang and was a huge success ☺
The footfall at the centre was extraordinary, the stallholders were amazing, the talks and workshops were full and oversubscribed, the Reuse Shop and the pop-up cafe were buzzing and the volunteers were exceptional 🙌
A HUGE thank you to everyone who came to support this event, it certainly did prove that that’s what you want.
THANK YOU to all the wonderful stallholders who supported us at our market, giving people the most delicious goodies to take home.
To Sheralyn Stuckey John Mcguire Carly D’Brionne Christy from Way of the Wild and Julia from Railway inn at Whithorn who provided the fantastic workshops, passing on knowledge and skills to the community.
Thank you to all the volunteers who helped organise and execute a big event like this, who ran the Reuse shop and the pop up cafe, giving up hours of their time for free.
Thanks to our trustees for cooking, technical support, running the apple processing, doing workshops, driving the mini bus.
Thanks to Abi and Lesley from Propagate for showing their new, amazing film at our Harvest Supper and both providing talks and information the following day.
Thanks to Gill from Machars and Cree Valley Climate Action Network for providing Growers Question Time. And to lovely Lucy from The Plant Farm for hosting the crop swap and for running around helping everyone everywhere, as she always does!

This year’s MaD Festival taking place in Whithorn at the South Machars Community Centre had a ‘Make Do and Mend’ theme, and MAC-CAN were involved in a few events, for example a clothes swap, fast fashion film screening and discussion. 

Apple pressing – the first outing of the year for the MAC-CAN kit – happened at the Doors Open Day celebrations at Challoch Church, just outside of Newton Stewart on 2-3 September 

“What a good idea” – everyone kept saying at this morning’s stall at the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Unesco Biosphere Green Fayre in Newton Stewart. Thanks to everyone who brought along plants and produce.

South Machars Crop Swaps

A combined Crop and Clothes Swap at a monthly community coffee morning 

Showers don’t stop the swappers!

Despite the dismal and damp weather, the July Crop Swap welcomed 15 people back to Whithorn, including three new people coming along to swap and see what it’s all about, which is wonderful! 😁


Today we had…
♻️Produce – onions and garlic, cucumbers, courgettes, rhubarb, salad etc.
💚Home baking
♻️Jams and chutneys
💚Vegetable plants – leeks, peppers etc.
♻️Garden plants – oxeye daisy, aquilegia, ferns etc.
💚Herb plants – mint, French Sorrel, double chamomile etc.
♻️Cut flowers
💚Alpaca poop!

Swapping Success!

The new clothes swap initiative is already on it’s third swap of the year, and have successfully held a swap each month since it began….. and plans on holding more monthly swaps as much as possible. 


If you would like to get involved to help set up these swaps in your area please get in touch with us:


Please get in touch also if you would like to be involved by showcasing, demonstrating or skill sharing any type of activity that others can do to either, for example: 

extend the life of clothing

repurpose scrap material 

creative patchwork

simple hemming, button sewing on etc. 

Climate Action Hub for D&G!

I am sure many people across the area are looking forward to seeing the outcome and progress of these initial conversations.


MAC-CAN Member Lucy attended the first of these sessions and can report that everyone in that session was in favour of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere taking on the development of such a Hub. 

Fun fundraiser! 

MAC-CAN Trustee Fi opened up her developing permaculture garden to fundraise for her Clothes Swap initiative, supported by MAC-CAN. 


It was a great success! 


‘Thank you everyone for coming to our first ever Open Garden. We raised £56 to help pay for hall hire etc so we don’t need to charge for entry to Clothes Swaps.’


30th June – Visit to Community Project (D&G Community Food Network Gathering)

MAC-CAN Croft members and the South Machars Community Centre (SMCC) team where invited to the D&G Community Food Network Gathering, along with other community groups in the area. Hosted by the KPT DT Community project based in Penpont and Propagate the D&G Community Food network Team. This is just a short slice of the day’s events. Make sure you check out their Facebook and websites for more information. 

The Facebook page for the KPT DT is –… 

Propagate website is – 

The SMCC Facebook page is – 

MAC-CAN website is –

Thanks to Chris, our MAC-CAN member and Croft volunteer’s video creation skills! 

18th June – MAC-CAN Croft Open Day

Including Crop and Clothes Swap events 

We had a great time opening the MAC-CAN Croft to everyone this afternoon and loved showing off what we’ve been doing, talking no-dig, forest gardening, swapping clothes (😆), crops ( South Machars Crop Swaps) and general blether.

Thank you to everyone who came along – and especially to all the wonderful volunteers who worked hard to make it such a special event as they do to always make it a special place to be!



What a great afternoon at the Machars and Cree Valley Climate Action Network MAC-CAN Croft, thank you to them for accommodating a swap and putting on such an interesting open day! It was lovely to see familiar faces and catch up as well as meet new people, who came from far and wide.
Enjoyable company, lots of things to see (lots of hard work done at The Croft to be inspired by), yummy pizza, refreshments etc
I lost count at 25 people who came along to exchange things like:
♻️perennial vegetable plants
♻️garden/ornamental plants
♻️herb plants
♻️plant pots and planters
♻️bird feeders
♻️lettuces, chard, rhubarb, cucumbers and potatoes
♻️home baking
and in the end I wasn’t at the swap all the time as there was so much going on and so many people to mingle with 😅
Thanks for coming along today and if you didn’t manage to make it, the next swap is July 1st at The Vault, Newton Stewart thanks to Helen 😊
Also great to share the space with Fiona and her team for the new clothes swap initiative which worked very well today too 😊
A really good clothes swap at the Croft  I think, most of all, it was such an enjoyable experience and we are looking forward to many more!

28-30th April – Wigtown Booksellers’ Spring Festival

We’ve had an enjoyable couple of sessions spreading the word at the Association of Wigtown Booksellers’ Spring Festival hosted by the generous New Chapter Books. Many people read their own work, and we had a joyful mixture of poetry, prose, lyrics and music. There’s even been suggestion of local Eco book club – anyone interested? Thank you to all readers and audience members, delightful company and good conversation.
Thank you for the lovely space for us to use in The Hive Garlieston this morning.
Cosy and vibrant – and with 22 people joining in the swapping – I would say for our first one in Garlieston that it was pretty successful!
Great as always to see people we know, introduce like-minded folks to others and welcome a few new faces from Garlieston itself and elsewhere on the peninsula coming to exchange things today like…
💚 wild garlic pesto
💚 gladioli, sedum and euphorbia plantlets
💚 bird feeder
💚 apple and marrow chutney
💚 brassica plant collars
💚 beetroot plantlets
💚 strawberry planters
💚 focaccia
💚 gardening and plant books
💚 primroses
💚 bat? box
💚 young tomatoes and courgette plants
💚 seeds
💚 auriculas – probably the most popular thing EVER 😅
Thank you for popping along – check out when the next one in May (Whithorn) will be – TBC asap!
Very big thanks and congratulations to long standing swapper Helen for hosting her first swap for the group at The Vault Arts Centre yesterday morning.
If you made it along I’m sure you’ll agree that it was an amazingly successful couple of hours – on Earth Day too!
Wonderful to see SO many people (I know I lost count at about 30), especially all the new faces and lots of people who have recently moved into the area.
The first of regular clothes swaps went off to a successful start. The hall was decked with homemade bunting and fairy lights. Three full rails of beautiful, good quality clothing were laid out for people to peruse at their leisure. There was even a manikin in a dress and floppy hat to welcome folk in. A clothes-related playlist played in the background too.
Magghi McLean of demonstrated how to embroider beautiful patches on to jeans to add new life to your garments. 

People started turning up with arms full of gorgeous clothes to swap. And swap they did! Business was brisk and banter was lively. The atmosphere was lovely and friendly and there was lots of talk about ‘Fast Fashion’ and today’s ‘throwaway society’ and what a great idea a regular clothes swap would be so people could plan ahead for the next one (hopefully July or August 2023).

After searching the clothes rails and filling their bags, swappers were able to sit and enjoy the music and chat with a cup of tea or coffee and delicious cakes baked by Fiona Prior and Sue Hearn for a small donation towards future hire of the hall. It was a great community venture as people pulled together to get it off the ground and came to swap their garments. 


Feedback was very positive with people saying they looked forward to this being a regular fixture in the Creetown calendar. Sarah Fetherstonhaugh who had travelled in from Newton Stewart said, The clothes swap is a fantastic idea, especially for this area, in the current financial climate! It’s lovely to pass items on for a new lease of life. I’m really looking forward to the next one.” 


MAC-CAN plans other clothes swaps around the DG8 area. Please get in touch if you would like to be involved in making this happen or to find out information of Clothes Swaps near you 


MAC-CAN members contributes to art exhibit

Two of our members (and regular crofters), Dru and Miles participated in the exhibition that opened Sat 25th March at Kirkcudbright Galleries.

The exhibition ‘The Plastic Age – The Solway Hoard Exhibition (Year 3023)’ ran until the 16th April.
Dru and Miles’ object is the Disney Spoon. The ‘blurb’ for the item is a wonderfully creative fantasy!
This afternoon some MAC-CAN members and co. took part in a litter pick at Garlieston as part of the annual Big Spring Clean campaign (17 March – 17 April)
As you can see we managed to collect a lot in a couple of hours (it’s now awaiting council pick up at a suitable roadside location).
A main focus of this pick was to move historical piles of rubbish that had been left along the woodland track. They’d been there for a long time but no one had ever moved them to the road, so they had just started to get grown over and break up further.
There was also, unfortunately, plenty of rubbish anyway in the woodland too, half buried or being hidden in the undergrowth, as well as on the beach itself.
The weather was glorious and made the task of wheelbarrowing loads up and down the track that much more enjoyable – I’m sure we all got a good work out as well as plenty of Vitamin Ds!
The bluebells were starting to come out too, the blackthorn blossom was beautiful, the wood anemones and Dog’s Mercury were glorious as well – and much more so without the burden of a variety of human detritus among them.
Big thanks to everyone who came along – Jacqueline, Heather, Fiona, Roger & Joshua, Alan, Glynn, Sam and Martin – regular litter pickers and beach cleaners and newbies; two were on holiday up here and got roped in!
We even had two people who were enjoying the glorious Easter weather collect some rubbish to add to our pile.
So many old bottles – glass and plastic – plenty of bits of fibreglass and polystyrene, plastic tubs and containers of all shapes and sizes, fishing line and rope, sweet wrappers and crisp packets, pieces of plastic from who knows what (buckets? feed sacks? crates? bags?), the ubiquitous helium balloon, broken plant pots, bits of roofing felt, plastic pipes, cans of lager (one basically unopened and full), lighters, bits of broken plastic beach toys and a myriad of other things removed from this beautiful place.
Hopefully we can gather a group again and tackle the challenge again in this area 
What a great and well attended second swap of 2023! I think we almost filled the entire car park!
Thank you to all the folks – quite a few literally coming from far and wide to join in – who came to swap and chat!
Some of the things we shared today:
♻️Sourdough starter
♻️Potted herbs and outdoor perennial plants
♻️Perennial kale cuttings
♻️Foraged mushrooms
♻️Empty bottles and jars for preserves
♻️Gardening books
♻️Jerusalem artichokes
Lots of lovely things exchanged and lots of connections made! It was great to catch up with familiar faces and we also welcomed some new ones -Tina from The Rhins Seed Library as well as Sonia, Matt and Laura from Glentrool.
Our next swap will be at The Hive Garlieston in April and it’s great to already have three upcoming swaps organised by Helen set for The Vault in Newton Stewart as well – please watch this space for more information!
Huge thanks to Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Unesco Biosphere for organising a fantastic trip yesterday to New Galloway.
We heard about the positive work of the Glenkens Food Hub, had a fascinating tour from Lorraine at permaculture site The Hidden Mill and met the growers of the Walled Garden on Garroch estate.
A fascinating and inspiring day about what can be accomplished with passion and soil!

“Climate Crisis Issues Facing Kenya: Concerns, Opportunities and Local Responses”

Thursday 2nd March 2023
The Machars and Cree Valley Climate Action Network, and the Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve provided the opportunity to hear about how people in another country are living with climate change.
Susan Akoya, a Kenyan environmental scientist and teacher grew up on a smallholding in western Kenya where growing food for family subsistence and local sale was part of her daily experience. She graduated from Kisii University with an environmental science degree and now works from Nairobi, teaching Swahili and pursuing a career in conservation and ecosystem health.
Sue discussed the overarching climate crisis issues facing the peoples of Kenya, highlighted current difficulties as well as opportunities for addressing the climate and biodiversity crises, and sustainable, local food production.
After her talk there were opportunities for questions and sharing ideas.
Photos show….
Water tanker in dry season river, Baringo County
Children in Likia Community, Nakuru County
Expert farmers in Likia Community Farming Cooperative
Susan seated outside her family smallholding, Kisumu County, Western Kenya

Saturday 28th January – Annual Potato Day event in Wigtown

So this year we were joined by members of:


South Machars Crop Swaps who have been organising cash-free monthly swaps of produce, plants, seeds and more.  At their first swap of 2023 organisers Lucy Smithies and Sam Winter joined us to share seeds, plants and gardening books. Some visitors, unfamiliar with the crop swap ethos, took seeds in return for a small cash donation to Food Train.  We hope to see them again for real swaps which are much more fun.


Lucy and Sam were also recruiting volunteers for their latest community project – Machars Abundance.  The aim of this project is to connect those with fruit trees/big harvests with others who can use the fruit, thus reducing food waste.


Also in attendance was Cat Muir who organises the Galloway Apple Project along with Maggie Kellie.  Their team works in Wigtown to take cuttings from old heritage apple trees around the town and graft them onto new rootstocks. They hope to use these old varieties to preserve them for the future and to create new local orchards.


We were also pleased to include Tina Ruiz from the Rhins Seed Library.  The aim of this project is to encourage growers to save seeds of open-pollinated, home-grown vegetables, flowers and herbs and to swap and share within the group.  This is a great way to find out which varieties thrive in our local soils and climate and to share resilient seeds and plants.


All the groups involved in this year’s event had a successful day raising their profiles, sharing stories and attracting new members.  If you would like to find out more about and their activities you will find them on Facebook or contact MAC-CAN at in**@ma*****.scot and we will connect you.


This year Food Train Regional Co-ordinator, Jim Brodie, helped organise the day.  Both teams were very busy with sales and lunches and had a great time.  The final total is still to be tallied but, between us, we raised well over £1000 for Food Train and are looking forward to doing it all over again next year.


Mary & George Pattison

On Saturday 28th January we held our sixth annual Potato Day to raise funds for the local Food Train charity.  Jamieson Brothers of Annan give us a generous discount on seed potatoes and we sell for the average local retail price.  Every penny of profit from sales goes to the Food Train. 


The Food Train offers a shopping service and befriending for local people who are housebound or less mobile.  On Potato Day their volunteers serve delicous home-cooked lunches with donations of soup and baking from Food Train friends.  


During the last two years of Covid we took pre-orders from customers and provided doorstep deliveries.  Our customer base has grown over the years.  Initially they were mainly concentrated in the Machars area but have since extended into the Rhins and Stewartry. 


The MAC-CAN Croft – a sustainable growing space in Whithorn – holds a volunteer meet every Wednesday.  All volunteers are members of MAC-CAN and the Croft activities overlap with those of other local food/growing groups.  This year we decided to provide a space at Potato Day to showcase their activities and attract new members and volunteers.

A pretty impossible task to count everyone who came along, but we reckon that about 250 people came along to buy potatoes, have lunch and support all the different organisations and projects attending. 

This was a great turn out for an initial meeting of like-minds; lots of interesting people to talk to and share their individual skills and talents. 


Lots of different creative scope from performance, large-scale public art installations, screen-writing, photography, painting, writers and more. 


Looking forwards to the second gathering and to see how the group develops and what actions can be achieved in the area and maybe further afield, marrying creativity and climate action!




This was a very localised gathering with a lovely lunch, for community food project networking. 
MAC-CAN was well represented with MAC-CAN Chair Mary, Trustee George and members Heather, Sheralyn and myself. 
Attendees were taken for a tour of The MAC-CAN Croft and at the South Machars Community Centre venue were told about the Community Cafe and Community Fridge, two initiatives set up to foster community and combat food waste. 
There was plenty of opportunity to discuss and explore ideas for future intitiatives and projects on a variety of sustainability subjects, in and around Whithorn as well as other areas of Dumfries and Galloway, as some attendees had travelled from Kirkcudbrightshire. 
 Photos taken by Molly 

Sunday 26th November

Willow Structure at The Croft

On Sunday 26th November we met at the Croft to weave a living willow dome, using our own willow (see behind – it wouldn’t have been any more local!).

A group learned that ‘planting’ freshly cut stems at this time of year means that they root and become a living sculpture. Everyone took really easily to weaving it all together to make sturdy structure.
We’ll post more photos in the spring when it comes into life. And hopefully in the summer too when humans and other creatures start to use it for shelter and food.
“The big beach clean”. Well what an amazing success . MAC-CAN , Cairndoon farm, Carlton farm, members from ONUS and over 20 volunteers worked very hard and filled a HUGE BIN SKIP .
It was well organised with people humphing the big stuff in to piles . Then the tractor slowly came along beach and people loaded up the trailer .
It was a very good day. Loads achieved , Friends met and new ones made . Foreshore looking great. Plans for future cleans in the pipeline . And fishboxes away to be made into knife handles . This is my third time at this one and the atmosphere and camaraderie makes it one of my very favourite .
Well done everybody . You are amazing!

George and Mick taught four budding blacksmiths how to make fire pokers from scrap steel rods using a coke fed forge, which can reach a heat of 1600oC turning the steel almost molten, allowing it to be manipulated, wrought and shaped. As always it is important to wear PPE, even I as a distant photographer had to wear safety goggles as occasionally the hot coke would splutter and stray fragments would shoot out like bullets! 


Over an action packed two hours the pokers were continually heated, shaped and hammered until a poker was wrought. It was particularly satisfying to see the steel bend like butter, its infamous durability temporarily stolen by the heat of the forge, soon to return after a couple minutes. In the end our four apprentice blacksmiths walked away with their very own fire pokers. It was impressive how quickly our trainees learned what to do and how well their reward came out. Well done to all on the day.


Wednesday 17th November

Bladesmiths and Blacksmiths

Machars and Cree Valley Climate Action Network hosted two events for the Making and Doing (MaD) Festival at The Croft: a blacksmithing workshop making fire pokers led by George and supported by Mick and an interactive demonstration on how to make recycled knives by Bladnoch based bladesmith Tim Westley.


The events were held in the Croft’s repurposed smithy which was once used by Ben the Pole aka. Bernard Philip Wilmaa infamous local blacksmith who once fought in WW11.


Our second event was an interactive demonstration by local based bladesmith Tim Westley on how he makes recycled but high-quality knives. Commendably, Tim Westely’s business Clement Knives recycles nitrous oxide cannisters, used recreationally as the drug known as laughing gas and utilises the steel in the cannisters to make his knives. Unbelievably, on one trip to London Tim once collected around 10,000 cannisters off the streets and around the Thames!



Unfortunately, the cannisters aren’t typically recycled as the risk of gas being left in the cannisters threatens current steel recycling methods. Essentially the cannisters are like a small bomb! There isn’t much steel in these cannisters however, so it takes several to make a blade and it’s not of the highest spec, so Tim does buy some high-quality recycled steel for the core of the blade.


Tim also makes his own bespoke handles and sheaths. The handles are made from recycled beach plastic like fish trays and the sheathes made of recycled bale wraps, a truly innovative and resourceful use of our ever-increasing plastic waste.


Tim takes us through his process step by step which I can assure you is as much a labour of willpower and strength as it is of love. He may spend several days finishing a batch of knives, but his efforts have been well received, and his business now supplies knives all over the world, as far afield as Japan.



Project Support Officer

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire UNESCO Biosphere


Find out more here: Programme of Events | Mad Festival (


Volunteering opportunities at several sessions throughout November for planting native trees in the beautiful Balkail Glen, Glen Luce.
Preparation Session – trimming back determined new laurel / Rhododendron growth.
Tuesday October 18th  1.30pm to 3.30
Tuesday November 8th  1.30pm to 3.30
Saturday November 12th     1.30pm to 3.30
Tuesday November 15th 1.30pm to 3.30
Friday November 25th.        1.30pm to 3.30
Friday December 2nd 1.30pm to 3.30. (If needed)
Meet at the Skate Park in Stair Park
Please contact Chair of Friends of the Glen, Mick Bird if you have any questions: th******@ol*****.uk

Saturday, 5th November, MAC-CAN’s first big public event as a SCIO

Wigtown County Buildings was bursting at the seams with enthusiasm and an abundance of great ideas recently! 
Our ‘Ideas into Action’ open meeting was very well attended and became a hive of activity. There were six key groups (themes) explored and each generated a wealth of comments, suggestions and ideas for future events or longer term projects. Some initiatives that are already in place were discussed too*, with calls for more volunteers for a few, as well as ideas for taking them forward.
The key groups with some examples of project or event ideas:
Food and Farming
South Machars Crop Swaps*
Bread Club 
Community Composting 
Machars Food Hub 
Workshops – sustainable meat and butchery, fruit and vegetable growing
Community gardens, allotments, growing and co-ops 
Increase of Market Gardens 
Hands on Projects 
Machars Abundance*
Galloway Apple Project*
Reduce, Reuse and Repair 
Machars Sustainable Fashion Week (to tie in with London Fashion Week 17-21st Feb) 
Repair Workshop and Tool Library at The Croft 
Energy and Transport 
Women’s Cycling Group 
Promotion of 500 bus route service 
Bioregionalism and International Links 
Twinning with Likia (Kenya) 
Free Thinkers 
Film and discussion events 
It’s clear to see that food production and our use of it was the most involving theme and obviously very close at heart with most, if not all, attendees! 
If you have any more ideas or would like to be involved in anything mentioned above, please get in touch with us: in**@ma*****.scot 
New initiatives born at this meeting have started to form solid foundations already which is brilliant, like the Creative Arts Group, having their first meeting in January. 
For more information see the poster on our ‘Events’ page.
On that day MAC-CAN also had its first AGM as a SCIO where we said a big thank you and goodbye to Chair Scott (although he is still an important part of the Core Group and Trustee! We can’t get rid of him that easily) and a big welcome to Mary, stepping up to Chair and lead the organisation which she initiated only a few years ago! We also welcomed a number of new Trustees and members to the Core Group. See who they are on our ‘Who’ page.
However, we are still seeking a Secretary (or a couple of Co-Secretaries). If you would like to know more about this vital and worthwhile position or think you could help and have the skills we need…please get in touch! 
For details about current (or new) initiatives, projects etc supported by MAC-CAN or that are of ‘green’ merit in our local DG8 area, check out these pages: 
More Good Stuff
Volunteer Opportunities 

D&G Local Food Gatherings

What a fantastic day we had! This was the first time we have organised an apple day with children and, hopefully, won’t be the last. It was such a joy and privilege to work with this school.
The day began with a 10 minute assembly and then it was full-on with chopping,
scratting and pressing. Throughout the school day we held four sessions with
different age groups, including the nursery class. There were 2 teams of eight at each session.
Once they were shown the sequence the children worked co-operatively and with
great enthusiasm and cheered each time the juice began to run from the presses.
Juice was shared and some taken home in bottles to parents and relatives who had provided the apples. We were surprised by how many apples were brought into school and the range of varieties brought in. Apple growing must be popular in the Luce valley!

Friday, 14th October, Glenluce Primary School’s Apple Adventure!

We would like to thank Leah, Mick, Jenna, Ashley, and all the teachers, parents and grandparents who supported us to make the day a great success
Get in touch, if you would like an Apple event at your school, group etc, : in**@ma*****.scot



Mary & George

. . . and what did we learn?
Local heritage and climate change are well embedded in Glenluce Primary School’s curriculum. The pupils are knowledgeable, highly motivated, hands-on and proud of their school. This was very much in evidence in their whole-hearted participation in the Apple Day and the displays around the school.
We learned that they have been very much involved in the volunteer woodland work in Balkail Glen, alongside the Friends of the Glen, and also with the New Luce curling pond restoration work. They have a well-established school garden and are planning a school orchard with Incredible Edible Stranraer this winter.
We came away with much more hope for the future.


South Machars Crop Swaps group’s monthly swap

Saturday, 20th August 2022 in Wigtown 

Ian, Floki and I went to the plant and produce swap in Wigtown at the Sensory Garden this morning.
There are so many things going on in this area and a genuine community first feel about it. Anyway, the rain was coming down pretty hard so someone kindly allowed the use of a room. It was our first time at a plant and produce swap and it was a great experience. Although not many people came, probably because of the bad weather, it was pretty successful for those of us who did go along.
We took a large tray of garlic plants, potatoes, lemongrass, fresh Garlic and some soaps. I was unsure as to whether anybody would be wanting to swap for garlic.
However, I was really surprised when everybody was interested in taking some from me. We were able to swap all the garlic, some jams and some of my soap seconds (They were small but perfect) for a whole stack of seed trays with covers, some lovely beetroot, a cucumber, a bunch of fresh parsley and some bay leaves. I reckon we all got a good deal there and no money changes hands, how fab is that! 
Best of all we met some lovely people and we talked plants and gardens and preserves. We are not only swapped produce we swapped ideas and gardening tips. One of the more interesting tips was the use of a pair of tights, new ones of course, as a sieve when making jam or apple jelly. I’m looking forward to trying that one out and we are both looking forward to the next swap day.
(parsley missing from the photo as Ian has gone to Footie and it’s still in the car boot so that’s fishcakes off the menu for dinner then !!)
Pleased with my takeaways this morning: tiger tomatoes, apples, lemon grass, soap and seed trays . Swapped for bay, rosemary parsley lettuce and runner beans. Potatoes, garlic and cucumbers and jam exchanged too, as well as plenty of growing and preserving tips
A good morning, despite the rain! Thanks for letting us use the meeting room (Machars Action). Look forward to next month’s swap.



Please remember no money is involved in our swaps, and they take place every month from about February until November. 

If you’re not already in the Facebook swap group and are local to the Machars please join @southmacharscropswaps

Sunday, 14th August, Visit to Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust

The team at Cree Valley Community Woodlands Trust kindly invited MAC-CAN to visit the nursery at Barcyle Farm to see what they are working on this year.

A small group of MAC-CAN humans plus one MAC-CAN beagle headed up on a super sunny August afternoon – what a place! 


First of all, one is blown away by the location. While it’s just a few miles outside Newtown Stewart it feels a million miles from anywhere, like a little yoke surrounded by a totally wild space.


The nursery is stunning, tirelessly cared for by the handful of dedicated volunteers who tend it. Rows and rows of perfect, healthy, beautiful tiny little baby trees, that will outlive all of us in time.



The nursery started around 12 years ago and collects locally sourced seed to produces native trees that are grown specially for specific projects around the South of Scotland and further.


We saw many different types of trees and heard about the wildlife that frequents the site. We were even able to help out a tiny bit by doing some weeding.

So if trees are your bag and you have a couple of hours a week to spare, this would be a wonderful project to get involved in.

The group meet on Wednesdays from around 10am-3pm followed by a coffee at the Belted Galloway.

No experience needed.


Get in touch: in**@ma*****.scot




Saturday, 9th July Visit to Balkail Glen

In July a real meeting of minds unfolded between two local groups with very similar interests, MAC-CAN and the Friends of Balkail Glen.

Balkail Glen is a hidden gem of woodland with some beautiful examples of massive mature trees including horse chestnut, beech and elm, with a stream running through and red squirrels leaping between the trunks.

Friends of Balkail Glen are a small but tireless group who have worked like trojans to clear laurel and rhododendron from the absolutely gorgeous Balkail Glen in Glen Luce. This work has opened up the woodland floor and dramatically changed the conditions within the woodland, allowing sunlight to flood down to the ground. Absolutely immediately (like actually while they were still chopping), small woodland birds moved into the cleared space to feed on the new available ground space.


Balkail Glen is a hidden gem of woodland with some beautiful examples of m


A small group of MAC-CANNERS were treated to a guided walk and update of the work going on. Improving biodiversity locally is going to be one of our strongest tools in the mitigating the local impacts of climate change, so this kind of project is exactlyre we would like to show support.

So if you have a spare two hours a week and would like to get involved with Friends of Balkail Glen, Glen Luce, please get in touch! in**@ma*****.scot




Sunday, 26th June, 10am – noon

South Machars Crop Swaps group’s  monthly swap

Despite the dire weather we had an active swap this morning with 12 people attending and all very thankful for the help of the SMCC in letting us use their indoor space.
There was an interesting variety of things being shared today, like:
💚 Unusual garden perennials
💚 Plant pots
💚 Basil plants
💚 Gardening books
💚 Coleus and sunflowers
💚 Kimchi
💚 Chutney, jam, cordials etc
💚 Flower and vegetable seeds
💚 Courgettes
Already looking forward to the next one 😊


Please remember no money is involved in our swaps, and they take place every month from about February until November. 

If you’re not already in the Facebook swap group and are local to the Machars please join @southmacharscropswaps


Sunday, 19th June, 2pm 

Our MAC-CAN Croft Open Day! 

MAC-CAN held an Open day at the Croft in June, bringing together sunshine, friends and stone-baked pizza! The open day gave a great update on just how much work is going on over at the MAC-CAN Croft. Super well done to everyone involved in the Croft, it looks like a green paradise with budding apples, a vibrant pond and broad beans that were causing all kinds of envy. I did have to remind myself.. thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s broad beans.

While we mingled and enjoyed tours and updates from those toiling under the tropical sun of Whithorn, we were also treated to a myriad of delicious home-made cakes – thank you to all the bakers – and then downright yummy bliss of pizzas hot out of the home made pizza oven in the garden. What a treat!!! With vegetarian and vegan options of everything, a great thanks to all involved, what a wonderful afternoon we all had over at the Croft. Kudos to Chris Pugh for wielding
that long pizza paddle thing like a pro, next stop, Naples mate. 

If you are interested in getting involved in the Croft, have a hand or two to spare or would like to try your hand at gardening or veg growing, please get in touch! in**@ma*****.scot






5th December  Willow Wreaths at The MAC-CAN Croft 

A suitably crisp December day for our wreath making session at the MAC-CAN Croft today – some beautiful creations made from natural materials, including willow and holly from the Croft itself and foraged flowers, berries and stems brought by the participants.



17th October, Apple Day at The MAC-CAN Croft 

Some photos of our Apple Day at MAC-CAN Croft in Whithorn on Sunday.


We had a fun day picking, chopping, mincing, pressing and, yes, drinking lots of lovely apples. Thank you to all who came along and made the place ‘hum’ with atmosphere.


George & Mary

We had a good afternoon meeting people and sharing thoughts and news at the Shindy in Wigtown.


Thank you to everyone who helped including Chris and Elizabeth, Linda Lou and John, Dru, Mary M, Anne and Emily and to everyone who visited the stall and talked with us.



To remind ourselves how far we have come and for a few more events that have taken place, have a look on the: 

Click here to go back to our current 

and upcoming Events Calendar!