Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


The Seed Box is a company limited by guarantee which was set up in April 2013. It is a social Enterprise based in the walled garden of Ballogie House near Aboyne Aberdeenshire, which provides horticultural training and outdoor therapy to adults with additional support needs (both physical and mental), called co-workers. The company has 6 Trustees, and employs 5 staff (some part time), who are in turn supported by over 15 volunteers (who provide over 50 hours a week of their time). Any profit made is put back into the Enterprise to support its development.

The Seed Box has a service contract with Aberdeenshire Council to provide training and work based activities for the co-workers. The Enterprise grows vegetables and plants which they sell (along with eggs and other goods) through a local shop, at open days and farmers’ markets and through a vegetable box scheme. Besides generating income, the sales allow co-workers to be involved in the sorting the vegetables into boxes, and also increases the awareness of the Enterprise within the local community (there currently is a waiting list for the vegetable boxes). The Enterprise was featured in the BBC Beech Grove Garden programme on 22nd Sep 2016.

Initially, the project provided 6 day sessions a week for co-workers, but this has increased to the current level of 28 sessions a week (with 10 different co-workers aged between 17 and 62). The ultimate aim is to provide activities and benefits that will enable the co-workers to progress into mainstream or sheltered employment (potentially with the Seed Box). For those who will not be able to attain employment, the experience at the Enterprise provides therapeutic benefits and an opportunity to assist in a worthwhile outdoor project, as well as providing a different environment from day care centres. The project also gives the families and carers of the co-workers a break from their critical and demanding support roles.

Many of the co-workers have been coming to the project for over 3 years and have increased the number of sessions they attend. The Seed Box has a very high attendance record and retention record and has received excellent feedback from the co-workers families and carers and also from the local Social Services Department. The Enterprise is confident that it can attract additional co-workers after consulting with current parents of co-workers, local schools and with Aberdeenshire Social Service Department.

Since its start up in 2013, The Seed Box has:

• Created over 4,000 square metres of growing space from a previously grassed area, a 120 square metre greenhouse and a 100 square metre poly tunnel. Both the greenhouse and the poly tunnel have extended the growing season and increased both the length of time that the co-workers can work in the garden and the amount of plants/vegetables produced.

• Converted a cottage into an area for potting, sorting vegetables and breaks etc.

• Established 4 different routes to sell the products (through a shop, open days, farmers markets and vegetable boxes).

• Bought a van to enable the Enterprise to transport co-workers and deliver sales

• Held open days - the recent open day in May 2017 was attended by over 500 people.

During this 3 year period, the turnover of the Enterprise has increased from £10,000 a year in 2013/14 to around £80,000 a year in 2016/17.

Now the Seed Box is firmly established, the project team are planning to increase the number of co-worker sessions from the current level of 28 to around 40 in 2018. Due to the success of the project in Ballogie, the Seed Box has been approached by a second local estate to carry out gardening work and projects on a second site. This would allow the Enterprise to take on 3 more co-workers for 3 sessions a week and would mean that that the Enterprise would employ an additional part time staff member to manage the work and co work and co-workers in the new location

The Seed Box

Moment of Pride

The Seed Box is an excellent example of a local group seeting up an enterprise to solve a local need by providing a new opportunity for people with additional support needs. It is run by very dedicated people (both staff and volunteers) and is widely supported by the local community

Location: Aboyne