Crofting initiative gains ground at Gathering Pace event

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Following on from a successful inaugural event at Glachbeg croft on the Black Isle, the Scottish Crofting Federation’s social crofting initiative moved to Elchies in Moray last weekend in order to take the next steps in making their groundbreaking scheme a reality.

Jointly funded by Moray Leader and Highland Leader the initiative furthers the principle of green care – the promotion of social, mental and physical
wellbeing through working with the land and animals.

The project is aimed at both crofters and smallholders living in the
Highland and Moray regions and is quickly gathering interest from a range of people including, service providers, social workers, teachers, support services and families interested in social crofting opportunities.

The project seeks to develop the inputs from crofters, and others who are interested in developing a formal network, to explore this emerging labour market as an opportunity for diversification.

Attendees at Sunday’s meeting came from across the country – Lochaber to Lossiemouth – and the hosts, Elchies of Speyside, multiple award winners for their high quality goat meat and mutton, gave an overview of their business model which includes a number of community targeted activities
including work with local schools and children of all ages and abilities.

Presentations were then given by Stephen Wiseman and Ruaraidh Milne from N4H (Nature for Health, for Happiness, in the Highlands) who explained some of the research into benefits which people can receive from outdoor activities.

Focus groups then explored what the project could set out to achieve to help crofters enter this field of activity before a final word from Karrie Marshal, author, international speaker and founder of Creativity in Care, a community arts company working with a wide range of people.

Julie Comins, of Elchies, said: ‘It is wonderful to be able to host initiatives like this.

‘Our ethos is to make farming accessible and understandable to everyone and today we have seen that there are real benefits to be had both for crofters and those who can experience, in whatever small way, the
provenance of our food through the land we live in.’

Ailsa Strange, Gaining Ground project administrator with the Scottish Crofting Federation who launched their new social crofting digital hub at the event, added:  ‘Elchies presents a very different perspective on social crofting to the model we experienced at Glachbeg – both are valid and both
are exemplars that can signpost what we are trying to achieve through this project.

‘We are looking forward to creating some real, usable and valuable resources from the outputs of these meetings which will inform and guide crofters into this emerging opportunity.

‘A new website has been launched at social.crofting.org and we are asking interested individuals and organisations to sign up to our Gaining Ground email network and join us on Facebook.’

For further information visit social.crofting.org or contact Lucy Beattie, Tina Hartley and Ailsa Strange by emailing: gainingground@crofting.org