The Croft

 

The MAC-CAN Croft is a sustainable and productive permaculture garden space in Whithorn. 

Here you can find out a bit more about it and how YOU can get involved! 

 

- NEW for 2024 -
Saturday sessions once a month
starting February

What's been happening lately?

Here are a few snippets taken from the MAC-CAN Croft group on our social media feed…. and highlights from Croft events. 

The majority of entries and photographs are from Gill, who manages The Croft and runs the weekly sessions, with additions from other MAC-CAN Croft volunteers and members who may be named. 

 

 

For more weekly, regular and up-to-date photos and information you can follow MAC-CAN on Facebook. 

 

 

You can also check out our events page for any upcoming workshops, open days etc. specifically taking place at The Croft. 

17th January 2024

Bright sunny day at the Croft coppicing our willow – well done everyone, what a nice way to spend a winter’s day

6th December 2023

More Hugelkultur fun at the MAC-CAN Croft today – we now have two beds ☺️💚🌱

15th November 2023

Today at the Croft we made a start on our Hugel bed, laying seasoned wood down and weaving in old willow rods, topping up with soil. We’ll progress to the other ‘layers’ over the next few weeks. The other photo is from last week when we sowed seeds and took soft fruit cuttings for plants to go in the forest garden.

2nd September 2023

It was a pleasant morning doing ‘jobs’ about the Croft – Jen and Andrew set to sharpening the tools ready for winter, Nicola and Jacqueline sowed wildflower seeds in our wildflower triangle, Chris and Elizabeth with Fiona helped sort our new delivery of Dalefoot wool compost (generously funded by our Wigtown Community Shop grant) and Tilly and I took cuttings from sage and rosemary to bulk up our plant stock in the forest garden. Steve and Lin were busy in the workshop and polytunnel respectively. Good work everyone

16th August 2023

Croft volunteers got an amazing amount done in a short space of time: several blocks moved into place for cold frame construction, apple trees straining under the weight of their harvest propped up with our seasoned willow, five bags of compost harvested from the compost bays, grafted apples given a bit of tlc, and aforementioned compost used to mound plant some more wee apple trees and fruit bushes in the forest garden, oh and blackberries harvested. We earned our break and blether in the sitooterie.

5th July 2023

Look closely! We’re extending the forest garden but the area has next to no soil. We’ve got some well-established pot grown apple trees that we grafted in early 2022 but where the labels are no longer legible to tell us variety or rootstock. So our ‘pot luck’ trees are planted in pockets or mounds of compost (from our compost heap)and mulched with grass clippings and fresh comfrey. We’ve only cleared vegetation around the planting area and will continue to water and mulch for the rest of the season. Alongside the trees we have planted currant bushes (from cuttings of our existing mature bushes) that were struggling in their pots – September would be a better time to plant – so we took the decision to plant them alongside the trees to start the forest garden understory level.
It feels good to get more forest garden area going.

7th June 2023

Summer is swinging into action at the MAC-CAN Croft, and we’re getting ready for our Open Day on Sunday 18th June (10-3pm). If you’d like to come and say hello, see what we’re up to, do some clothes swapping, learn how to maintain your gardening hand tools, buy some of our plants, swap some of your own produce, or just eat pizza from our pizza oven, it’s all happening that day!

26th April 2023

Photos from our volunteer day at the MAC-CAN Croft today. Sowing, pricking out seedlings, preparing another no-dig bed, and mulching with grass clippings. Good work team, as usual

2nd March 2023

Good to see Crofters busy in different parts of the Croft today

1st February 2023

These fabulous people worked really hard in the drizzle today to make a usable area to progress the project with another compost bay and areas for cold frames and heeling in beds. Thank you Chris, Elizabeth, Nicola, Dru, Miles, Glyn, Steve, and George. And superstar Lin who made a grand start on this season’s seed sowing in the polytunnel.

Yesterday we made a start on laying the hedge along one side of the forest garden. Hedgelaying is an ancient technique that benefits the hedge by stimulating growth lower down and creating thicker growth nearer the base. This in turn benefits wildlife, providing shelter, habitat and food sources. It means we have another element to our forest garden, as the hedge contains native species of trees such as hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel and field maple, in what is a relatively small space. Thanks to Andrew for leading us and providing the lovely sharp billhooks and other traditional hedgelaying tools.

5th January 2023

15th December 2022

We warmed up well at the Croft yesterday, lots of cutting, sorting and generally moving about to get the blood flowing 

27th November 2022

Today we had a fun afternoon at the Croft in Whithorn using our own freshly cut willow to build a dome that will leaf and grow into a shelter for human people as well as bird and insect people.

…and afterwards we sat round to warm up with a cuppa and a blether in the barn.

12th October 2022

Today was about planting, produce and visitors – welcome The Unexpected Garden from Stranraer

18th September 2022

Fabulous afternoon at the Croft, celebrating George and Mary’s 150th birthday, as well as all things food and plants. 


A big thank you to everyone who came along and shared the celebration, and especially to the fantastic volunteers for both the Croft and the Crop Swap, for making it all happen so swiftly and smoothly.



Thank you to all who came along to share in our big birthday celebration. It was lovely to host the crop swap here as well and make new friends and connections. We would love to host it again.
We were also celebrating the first anniversary of the Croft but it got a bit overlooked with all the activities going on. The day could not have happened without the Croft volunteers. There is nothing these guys can’t do – they are brilliant and always bring joy to the proceedings.
So thanks to Gill for starting the croft and sharing our garden in such a gentle way. We love the regular weekly sessions with these fabulous people.
 
 
Mary
Big thanks to Chris, Elizabeth, Mary and Miles for the amazing pizzas – topping (see what I did there) the ones at the last event for deliciousness and just enough burned flavour!
 
Dru and Nicola for being excellent cake and tea ladies – and to everyone who baked and brought goodies. Especially to Sheralyn for that fabulous celebration cake.
 
Jacqueline for being my right-hand woman and fetching oatmilk, apple trees, tables and all manner of random things. Also to Steve and Lin for helping set up and take down so swiftly. Hope you enjoyed the courgettes finally.
 
Well done Lucy for setting up the Crop Swap in a tight corner – it looks like you have some loyal followers and some fantastic stuff getting swapped.
 
And finally George and Mary for being 150 and sharing it with everyone! 
 

I returned with celery, runner beans; rhubarb and gooseberry chutney, rosemary and apple jelly, cucumber , dill and onion pickle. And two lovely, full of chi, Cougemarrets. And two cucumbers. And delicious home made cakes and flapjacks from the Mac Can team in exchange for a small donation. And met up with many friendly like minded locals.

 

 

Sue

Good times….special memories made….great buncha folks ….old familiars and plenty of new….here’s to much more of the same and many more years for mary and george…..excellent cake

 

 

Jacqui

Around 25 people came to share today and The Croft event was busy too.
It was a very busy and full swapping table today; a bit of a hectic start but plenty of new and familiar faces with a wide variety of items being shared between folks. Thank you for all the nice things I went home with and The Croft have welcomed the wheelie trug and electric hedge trimmer brought by Sue.
Thank you everyone who popped by! 
 
 Lucy

24th August 2022

Another significant day today as we started planting the No-Dig perennial vegetable bed, with some perennial kale, some mint, some Good King Henry and some sorrel. All planted in our own home-made compost. It’s the start of something that will literally grow over the next year or so. 

 

We were observed by a couple of bees enjoying the dandelions…

 
… and as ever, we finished up with a cuppa and a blether outside our tool shed.

20th July 2022

The girls in the Croft team carrying out some tools maintenance today before doing a summer harvest from the polytunnel and the fruit garden..🍓
 
 

6th July 2022

A short slide show from the Croft’s volunteers day trip to Meikle Larbrax cottage garden, made by MAC-CAN member and Croft volunteer Chris

8th June 2022

Pizza oven number one being constructed ahead of the first Open Day at the Croft! 

11th May 2022

Thank you to all the volunteers who came this morning to help us move forward to get the perennial beds sorted and ready for planting by using no-dig methods. We also planted some more currant bushes – green currants anybody?? – in the forest garden. It was the weather to stop and enjoy the wildlife too, including the beautiful flower crowns of the plantain.

Looking forward to next Wednesday already. As always, anyone is welcome to join in or just come and enjoy 😎.

6th April 2022

Thank you once again to all the amazing volunteers at the Croft, for all the work and progress made over the last two weeks. It was also good to see Anne and Emily there today, and we achieved a bit more towards making the pond more attractive to wildlife, as well as making use of the willow coppiced earlier this year to make a dead hedge.

3rd March 2022

We had seven hardy souls working at the Croft yesterday, listening to the rain tapping on the polytunnel and workshop roofs. It was a day for sorting out, potting up and sowing seeds. Oh and sorting out toilet facilities 🚽 

We also did some planning and gathering plants for starting the forest garden. Here’s hoping for a better day weather wise for next Wednesday’s session so we can get spades into soil.

Thank you to Chris and Elizabeth, Miles and Dru, Jen and welcome to Nicola. And as always to George and Mary. 😊

The Croft's Story

 
It started in its curent form in Spetember 2021 and has always been entirely run and managed by volunteers – there are a core group of regulars, who meet for a work day once a week. Aart from a polytunnel and Mary and George’s own plot, the garden is being developed using Forest Gardening and No Dig approaches, growing mainly perennial vegetables, fruits and herbs. 
 
The existing fruit trees were used as a starting point, underplanting them in layers with fruit bushes, herbs and ground cover such as strawberries. There will be areas for the No Dig planting and a new pond and bog garden to support wildlife was created.
 

Coming from the climate action angle, we want to explore and demonstrate a holistic way of working that includes soil protection and wildlife. 

The main aim is not primarily food production but learning, building skills and providing hands on experience of this gentle, slow and long-term approach to working with the land in a low-maintenance, low-impact way.
 

As well as using the forest approach, we wanted the garden to be non-funding reliant and evolve out of what was already there and what we had access to, rather than require lots of resources, so it is very low cost and uses materials and plants that we have found, cultivated ourselves or had donated locally. 


The food we produce is used by our volunteers, with surplus distributed through the Whithorn Community Fridge just up the road at the South Machars Community Centre. 

We have apple root stock that we are able to share and donate to other projects and willow that we use as fencing and protection in the garden.


It’s a special learning experience at The Croft and as we develop the garden, we have learnt about using the skills of our volunteers in creative ways – for example one volunteer who was unable to do much physical activity sat and watched the wildlife in the garden for a day near the start of our project, recording what she saw as a wildlife survey that we will repeat and compare with every six months or so. 
 
Although we are using a different approach to growing and gardening than what many people are used to, we’ve found that everyone who has come to work here has quickly understood and embraced how we’re working, and the project has taken off and is growing in an organic way.
 
There are lots of plans for The Croft and we are developing our space for further workshops and events, like our annual Apple Day and wreath making. 
 
Watch this space for upcoming events, for example workshops around food storage and fermentation.
 
 

Get Involved

We welcome anyone interested in what we are doing to come and see us and the garden as it develops! 
 
We have a very friendly group of volunteers who meet and work at The Croft on Wednesdays…. and from February 2024, once a month on Saturday sessions too! 
New helpers are always welcome to lend a hand, share their experience and expertise as well as socialise and learn from each other. There’s always time for a brew and a blether too! 
 
Please get in touch with us: in**@ma*****.org if you would like to come by and join in!