Farming, Crofting, Food Production

There is literally so much going on in the farming and crofting world just now regarding changing farming practises to incorporate aims that improve the environment and tackle climate change issues. Here we list the resources that we’re aware of. Hopefully over the coming months we’ll start to feature the farms and crofts in Sutherland and nearby that are working towards improvements.

If you are aware of any good sources of information to help tackle climate change and improve the environment in farms, crofts and food production, please do get in touch.

Let’s change the 80/80 situation!! As in…. we import and export 80% of our food!! That’s is crazy, surely! We will surely be in a much more resilient place if we use the 80/20 rule where we keep 80% of all of our food and only import and export 20%.

Working Together – Community Supported Agriculture

Grow Food Sutherland

Community Supported Agriculture is a concept where the community invests in growing local, sustainable food, mostly but not always, in conjunction with farmers and crofters. The investment may be financial or through labour and there are a wide array of successful CSA models.
We held a talk on Tues 15th Sep 2020 with Suzy Russell of the CSA Network who will explained what CSA can be, covered examples of working CSA’s and explained what the CSA Network organisation can do to help.

You can read more about CSA and a summary of our initial discussions with the CSA Network here.

Local Food Resources and Information

The Highland Good Food Conversation – There are a number of projects moving forward in Phase 3 of this initiative including Bigging Up Small Farms and Highland Greenhouse Growing.

Scotland and UK Food Initiatives

The James Hutton Institute ran an excellent week long summit on the advancements in soft fruit growing research. Everything is covered from black currant, blueberries and even honeyberries. Of particular interest is the research being carried out regarding climate change, looking at varieties that need shorter cold seasons and considering new pests and diseases. Each of the presentations is only 20 mins or less. Anyone interested in growing soft fruit will benefit.
Here’s the link for the Fruits of the Future 2020 
And learn about the 2021 super food, coming soon – The Scottish Honeyberry Growers association.

The Scottish Rural Innovation Support Service at Soil Association Scotland promotes farm led innovation. It provides professional support for farmers wanting to try out new things, connecting them to experts in the field and helping ideas happen. They get involved in many projects from oilseed rape, to kids eating more veg, to large scale breeding programmes and soil science. This link to their recent newsletter includes information on the Tea Industry, a formation meeting of the Scottish Pulses Supply Chain (4th Sep), security help for Lone Workers and the benefits of playing music to hens! Also discussed are craft brewing, adapting farming to local needs.
What’s more, the RISS group have  about 50 different focus groups from Veg Boxes, to Land Matching, Reducing Waste in the Cheese Sector and Hemp growing. See the full list here – you’ll be blown away – prepare to go down several rabbit holes 😉

Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service also has a wealth of resources available to farmers including grants, rural business advice, grains, livestock advice and various discussion groups including support for remote businesses. They have a series of events running, including, in September 2020 – Women in Agriculture, Polyunits for Production and various publications including Assessing Soil Health, Beneficial Insects, Brexit, Farming with Trees and profitable Climate Change improvements.

The Soil Association Scotland works across the whole farming and food system looking at not only organic systems but also Food for Life, Scotland and various Scottish Farming Programmes. An interesting newsletter (Aug 2020) includes information on Scottish Pulses, Carbon Assets for Soil Health, Soil Management, the FAS Survey, Peatland Restoration, Agricology podcast and Quality Meat Scotland podcasts and more…

World Resources – pod casts, webinars, newsletters, education – all about helping farmers to thrive in our new world. Their latest (Aug 2020) focus is on helping farmers improve efficiencies and profits with farmers markets (without crazy amounts of work!) Another podcast is on growing oats and oat milk and yoghurt. And, find out about their Fungi Summit here.

Read more about Food and Climate Change here.