Nature-friendly farmers step into the limelight

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Soil Association Scotland has announced nine successful applicants from Scotland to its Farmer Ambassador programme.

The UK-wide Soil Association programme will train a total of 24 ambassadors in smartphone video production and storytelling, so they can invite the public, policy makers and other farmers virtually onto their farms and showcase the benefits of nature – and climate-friendly farming.

Soil Association Scotland director Aoife Behan says: ‘Scotland’s farmers and crofters are a vital part of the solution to the challenges of climate change, nature loss and ill-health we all face. By producing food in ways that nurture people, the environment and the rural economy, they meet those challenges head-on. We want to give those farmers the tools to show people how they do it.

‘We are proud to welcome such a brilliant, diverse bunch into the programme, and look forward to seeing and sharing what they produce after the training in October.’
Training will take place online with journalist and broadcaster Anna Jones and filmmaker Alex Price of Just Farmers, and the group will receive support from each other and the Soil Association.

New Farmer Ambassador Gillian Vollum farms 800 acres at Balliemore Farm on the Isle of Kerrera, near Oban, with her husband and two small boys. She says: ‘We absolutely have to get better at promoting ourselves, our products and our farms. We have to educate people about how we get our food to their table, how we look after our animals, how we try and plant as many trees and wild flowers as we can, all while trying to stay financially solvent-ish, raise our families and hopefully leave the farms and land in some sort of good order for the next generation. It’s a pretty big juggling act.’

Matthew Anderson, formerly of Oban, is an organic beef farmer and LANTRA industry champion, with 96 acres of his own, and almost 1,000, with sheep that he farms with his father at Mainhill and Swinside Farms in the Scottish Borders.

He says: ‘I would like other farmers and policy makers to see organic grassland management as a sustainable way of farming in the future, providing both food security and environmental benefits. I would also like to make the general public more aware of the good stories from agriculture.’

Scotland’s other Farmer Ambassadors are Louise Munro of Mosshead Farm, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire; Robert Wilson of Cowbog Farm, Jedburgh, Scottish Borders; Hugh Grierson of Newmiln Farm, Perth; Helen O’Keefe of Middleton Croft, Elphin, Sutherland; Jessica Walker of Barnside Farm, Duns, Scottish Borders; Denise Walton of Peelham Farm, Foulden, Berwickshire and Nikki Yoxall of Howemill, Huntly, Aberdeenshire.

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