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The search for Scotland’s next two monitor farming families got under way last week (January 28) at a packed programme launch held at Briarlands Farm, by Stirling.
Applications to become the next monitor farmer are now open to any agritourism business in East Central or West Scotland, and close on Monday 4 February.
The latest three-year agritourism programme is funded by Scottish Enterprise and is a commitment under the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government.
More than 70 delegates attended the launch event to find out more about the business and personal benefits of being involved, listening to inspiring talks from those who participated in the first agritourism programme.
Setting the scene about the wider benefit to Scotland’s farming and tourism industries from this investment in skills and knowledge transfer were speakers Julian Pace, Head of Rural, Scottish Enterprise; Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland and Marc Crothall, Chief Executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance.
Project co-ordinator Caroline Millar said: “It was fantastic to have over 70 business owners in the room from as far afield as Morayshire to the Scottish Borders who came to listen to the personal journeys of five very different but inspiring agritourism businesses who were involved in the last monitor farm programme.
“We have had several applications to be one of the next agritourism monitor farmers as a result of attending Monday’s event and I would encourage anyone thinking of applying to go for it.”
Speaking after the event, Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland said: “As someone who was not involved with the last agritourism monitor farm programme, I was blown away by the significant impact that the previous programme has made to those who took part.
“As well as business growth, there were significant benefits to the wider local economy by generating increased visitor numbers and the creation of new jobs. This demonstrates clearly what opportunities agritourism presents for farmers and the rural economy in Scotland.”
The first programme, launched in 2014/15, was based around Laggan Farm in Dumfries and Galloway and Peel Farm in Angus. It created significant business growth for the host monitor farmers as well as helping to build the businesses of many members of the community groups who attended the monitor meetings.
Duncan, Murray and father Kerr McConchie talked about the changes in the activity business Laggan Outdoor, the tourism business at Mossyard Farm. They also outlined its role alongside the overall farming business as well as the development of a new business called GG’s Yard, a luxury events and wedding venue on the farm.
Claire Fleming of Peel Farm shared her experiences of developing new accommodation on the farm and taking back the running of the farm coffee shop and farm retail business. Kim Cameron, who at the time of the monitor farm was renting the farm shop and café at Peel Farm, talked about the creation of her award-winning gin business, The Gin Bothy, developed during the monitor farm programme and now exceeding sales of over £1 million.
Two regular monitor farm meeting attendees, Anna Lamotte of Guardswell Farm and Louise Nicol, of Newton Farm Holidays, shared their business development stories with delegates, demonstrating the benefits of being part of a strong monitor farm community group.
Applications to become the next monitor farmer are now open to any agritourism business in East Central or West Scotland.
Applications can be made via an online application https://www.surveymonkey.co. uk/r/agritourism- monitorfarmapplication. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on their farm by an interview panel with the successful applicants announced at the end of February 2019.
For further information on becoming a monitor farmer or becoming part of the community group please email caroline@agritourism- monitorfarm.com