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Horticulture For Crofters and Other Small Producers

31st January 2007

Saturday 17th February at Dunbeath Community Centre - 09.30am - 4.15pm

A training and information event on polytunnel and outdoor cropping.

Visit to 'Food for Thought', Spittal in the afternoon courtesy of Douglas Henderson
Attendance free all welcome. Light lunch provided. Assistance with child care costs available on request.

Organised by the Scottish Crofting Foundation, Initiative at the Edge and the Crofters Commission with assistance from Scottish Agricultural College. These events are funded by the Crofters Commission, SAC, HIE and the European Social Fund. Prior registration necessary.

Contact Eric Larnach 01593 731455 ericlarnachiate[AT]btconnect.com

In many crofting areas these days you'll see a fair scattering of polytunnels in the landscape - evidence of crofters diversifying from more traditional activities and producing good, healthy, fresh food for the family and adding a bit to the croft income as well. A polytunnel is a luxury, but not a necessity. In all the crofting areas it is perfectly possible to grow the basic vegetables without protection.

Demand for locally produced food is increasing throughout the Highlands and Islands, and crofters, with our priceless land asset, are in a unique position to meet that demand. Recognising this, the Scottish Crofting Foundation started last year to run a series of 'Horticulture for Crofters' events which are designed to highlight the opportunities for crofters in this form of diversification. Over 120 people have attended so far at Skerray, Stoer, Durness, Rogart, Strathcarron and Dundonnell. The event at Dunbeath on Saturday 17th February is the latest in this series.

Last year new producer groups started up in North West Sutherland, East Sutherland and Lochcarron/Applecross. These have joined established groups in Skye and Lochalsh, Lewis and Harris, Uist and Barra, Lochbroom and Ullapool, Gairloch and Loch Ewe, and Lochaber. Most of these have their own marketing arrangements, adding to the network of farmers' markets now operating throughout Scotland. As anyone involved will confirm, good local produce more or less sells itself: production is far more difficult than marketing. Even with the inexorable expansion of Tesco and the like, fresh produce is quite hard to obtain in many areas, so local producers are pushing at an open door. Even where supermarkets are within reach, an increasing number of consumers prefer to know where their food comes from and appreciate the superior quality and freshness of local produce.

The extent of the local food movement in the Highlands can be seen by visiting the website of Highlands and Islands Local Food Network www.hilocalfood.net. The site also has information on further training opportunities as does that of the Scottish Crofting Foundation www.crofting.org.

To register for the Dunbeath event contact Eric Larnach on 01593 731455 ericlarnachiate[AT]btconnect.com or Donald Murdie on 01851 612484 donald[AT]crofting.org. The day starts at 09.30 at Dunbeath Community Centre with a visit to 'Food for Thought' at Spittal in the afternoon. There is no charge and a light lunch is provided. Attendance is not restricted to crofters; other potential small producers are welcome.