History in the baking for Ayton growing enterprise
A lockdown project combining a love for growing and baking is proving a batch made in heaven for sweet-toothed villagers in Ayton.
The Soil Sisters stall at the entrance to Ayton Castle is gaining a growing reputation for its quality bakes and soups, with residents from across Berwickshire flocking there for snacks each week.
Brainchild of Ayton Castle house manager and chef Michelle Jones and event caterer Caroline Sara, Soil Sisters bloomed during the first lockdown last year.
"The pandemic lockdowns had a dramatic impact on us both,” Michelle explained.
“Like many people, our work dried up and we found ourselves with plenty of time on our hands.
“We are both passionate about great locally sourced ingredients, so we asked if we could take care of the vegetable garden at the castle, which was laying dormant due to the pandemic.
"The owners kindly agreed and we had soon grown far more veg than we could eat.”
Rather than let it go to waste, the ladies constructed a stand out of some old doors and pallets with an honesty box, and twice a week filled it with produce on a ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ basis.
The money raised went to local good causes and on new seeds and equipment to keep the garden going.
The stall proved popular with locals and the duo soon added to its offering, with chutneys, jams and cakes, all freshly prepared in the Sara Event Catering kitchen, filling its crates.
"As the winter drew in we made more baked goods, and even put on special events with children in mind at Halloween and Christmas,” Michelle said.
Last weekend the Soil Sisters staged an Easter event, which included an egg decorating competition. It attracted dozens of entries, and the eggs were used to decorate the castle woodland.
“We really enjoy making things for our community and our baking especially is proving hugely popular,” Michelle said.
"It never ceases to amaze us how quickly it disappears every week.
"We have lots of fun recipes and ideas too for extra events to keep people coming back during the upcoming season.”
The stand, at the South Lodge entrance to Ayton Castle, is filled most Thursdays.