One of the consequences of the period of Lockdown this year, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, was that many Scout Groups – especially those with their own premises – lost vital income usually gained from external users through hall lets. Obviously, most, or all, of these external users were also placed into Lockdown and ceased meeting.

The 21st Craigalmond in South Queensferry was no exception.

But, for the last 9 – 10 years, the Group as operated an annual sale of compost bags, started initially by the Cub Pack then adopted and widened into a Group activity and run by the Executive through its fund-raising team.

We buy in bags of Green Goodness compost (made from the recycled garden waste of Edinburgh and the Lothians) and then sell this through local connections to keen (or not so keen!) gardeners in and around South Queensferry. For most of the preceding years, we have sold around 250 – 400 bags, generating an income for the Group of several hundreds of ££££.

Customers like it, because we offer free delivery around Queensferry and Kirkliston, for many of our customers don’t have their own transport or are unable to get to garden centres or to carry bags of compost home on the bus.

And it seems to work – there are some great examples of baskets, pots, raised beds and vegetable patches using this product.

This year began much as before. We took in our first delivery of four pallets of compost. We had some new fliers printed this year and had just started to pop these through a few letterboxes when along came LOCKDOWN – so we stopped! In addition to the fliers, we utilised the local newspaper, Facebook, the Group website, and we got in touch with last year’s customers to remind them we were here again this year.

But it became obvious that many people were still looking for supplies of compost as it was by now early spring, the sun was out, and it was one of the warmest, driest and sunniest springs for many years. And everyone was at home – many looking to their gardens for things to do!

After a few weeks of hesitation and locking down ourselves, we devised a process whereby we could continue to supply the compost to people’s doorsteps or garden gates, with payments made electronically through the Group’s website or through bank transfers. Orders were made by the existing order process on the website, or by phone and e-mail – and even folks waving us down in the streets some days!

Of course, we couldn’t ask any parents or leaders or Exec members to help out this year like we normally do. So, all the compost was received, re-loaded and delivered by one family unit.

The result – instead of 250 bags like last year, we topped out at just over 1000 bags in 2020! And people were keen to add donations for delivering, and ‘just to help the scouts’ so by the end of July we had raised over £2000 from this activity alone! Over 270 different customers (some of them several times over) made use of the service, and we managed to deliver the entire lot without any direct contact with any of our customers!

From pallet to doorstep – outside Group Hall

Some facts and figures:

  • Nearly 300 happy customers 
  • One happy Group Treasurer, as this amount made up for nearly half of our lost hall lets income;
  • One very busy Group trailer (on the back of my car for over 10 weeks!).
  • Many spectacular gardens, flower displays and vegetable plots around Queensferry
  • 1000 bags of compost = 40,000 litres = approx. 20 tonnes (all lifted off the delivery truck, onto our trailer, then off to the customer doorstep = 60 tonnes of lifting.)

This equated to one excellent piece of daily exercise per day (as allowed by the Scottish Government) and many calories burned in the process!


Trailer ready to go, our own planter in front of hall using the compost


Ian Harrower
21st Craigalmond (South Queensferry) Scout Group