A National Lottery Community Grant in May 2024 has enabled the introduction of a concerted volunteer gardening block between 1-4pm on Fridays during the growing season. Come along and help us care for our polytunnel, natural dye garden and outdoor spaces through the seasons. Share your expertise or learn from our staff and other volunteers. Download a volunteer application form here. Email Lara Armitage for more details about the gardening aspect and the bursary we offer to help towards travel costs.

During the winters months, outdoor opportunities in the gardens may reduce, but we may still need help processing our harvested dye materials and completing other tasks.

A commercial-sized polytunnel serves the Birkhill residents through the Spring, Summer & Autumn months - with plenty left over for snacks during workshop sessions, surplus to be sold on our honesty stall and extra to go to our local community food larders in Earlston & Lauder. There are also a number of raised beds comprising an outdoor garden space. We create our own compost, mixing in all the cuttings from Birkhill gardening, as well as all the leaves collected on the nine-acre smallholding, with the copious amounts of alpaca dung produced by our fibrous friends cut in for good measure.

In April of 2022, we were delighted to have been awarded substantial grant support from the Government's Mental Health & Wellbeing Fund, which enabled us, in conjunction with the Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre (SBRCC), to launch a natural dye garden. We planted a host of plants that have been associated over centuries with the natural dye process. The learning curve was steep but our resident dye expert, Sunshine Stewart, traversed the mountain of knowledge with tenacity and curiosity, developing our very own dye programme along the way, as well as number of workshops and kits available to the public.


Birkhill House

Earlston TD4 6AR

email & phone

07779 339 653