The Caim at Luthermuir is a unique partnership between West Mearns and Aberluthnott Parish Churches. It was born out of deep relationships and numerous conversations, leading us to realize the importance of taking a vulnerable approach to mission in our community. Rather than simply working for the community, we sought to work with them, offering a contemplative and prayerful presence.

Our vision for The Caim is to establish a thriving market garden that produces fresh, seasonal produce year-round. This not only serves as our mission platform, but also creates meaningful connections between food, people, and nature through engaging gardening activities. These activities not only teach new skills, but also contribute to overall health and well-being. Additionally, The Caim serves as a space for retreats and community gatherings centered around shared meals, life stories, and faith.

The momentum for The Caim grew when Aberluthnott generously allocated 2.5 acres of glebe land beside the church in Luthermuir. Through extensive research and consultation with local stakeholders, we discovered various issues such as rural poverty, accessibility, economic vulnerability, and food security. We also had the opportunity to participate in a local Food Forum and hosted an open information morning that was attended by approximately 75-80 people.

In March 2023, we began the infrastructure work for The Caim, with the help of volunteers who erected polytunnels, planted orchards, and completed various tasks. The local Primary School also joined in by planting trees to create a wildlife area. Over the following months, we supplied harvests to local larders and welcomed visitors to The Caim. We also initiated activities for the Primary School students, including visits to local larders, soup-making, and Christmas wreath-making. The space also offers a listening presence for drop-in visitors. We celebrated the harvest with a simple service in the field.

The overarching mission of The Caim is to cultivate fresh produce, provide a welcoming environment, foster communal learning and sharing, and embody God’s generosity and Kingdom presence. As Parish Minister, I am deeply encouraged by the multifaceted nature of this project, which encompasses environmental stewardship, social justice, education, worship, and community engagement. I firmly believe that The Caim will become a defining factor in our parish’s presence and work in the region, offering renewal and embodying the essence of the “kingdom” in a new season.

Now, let’s address some questions:

• What have you learned throughout this journey?

One of our learnings was that “chit” refers to potatoes, not to chit chat. [Brian]

We have learned the importance of taking each step with patient and prayerful noticing, paying attention to the right direction, conversations, and contacts to explore collaborative ways of working. [Fyfe]

• Can you share your biggest mistake or failure?

One of our mistakes was not moving quicker with the project. We spent a lot of time contemplating the concepts before taking action. [Brian]

We also made the mistake of trying to plow too much ground initially, which resulted in an abundance of weeds. [Fyfe]

• What resource has been most helpful to you?

The extraordinary support and willingness of the Kirk Session to invest in the concept and get it started has been invaluable. [Brian]

Being part of the Accelerate Programme has also been a great resource for us. [Fyfe]

• What is the most helpful advice you have received?

We were advised that it takes a long time to do something well, so we shouldn’t wait to start. [Brian]

We resonate with the advice from garden writer Charles Dowding: “Try things out, be happy to make mistakes, but above all, have a go.” [Fyfe]

• Please share your most memorable experience as a missional community.

One of our most memorable experiences has been seeing people from the community enthusiastically getting involved in something that is church to them. They truly “see” it. [Brian]

For us, the most memorable moments have been when we are engaged in activities and tasks with people of various ages, hearing their life stories, and witnessing the connections being made. [Fyfe]

Written by Rev Brian Smith, Parish Minister for West Mearns, and Rev Dr Fyfe Blair, Project Lead.

The Presbytery of the North East and the Northern Isles – The Church of Scotland (