Gaining Ground in Moray

    Posted on 25 October 2019

    The Scottish Crofting Federation held a hugely successful event at Elchies Boer Goat Farm as part of their Gaining Ground project. The cooperation project - supported by both Moray LEADER and Highland LEADER - aims to provide learning and network opportunities for anyone interested in the possibilities that Social Crofting can bring. This was the first such event in Moray as part of the project, with more to take place in the near future.

    Activities for the day aimed to follow from and build on participant feedback from the first event at Glachbeg Croft, North Kessock.  Brian Cameron and Julie Comins of Elchies Farm gave an overview of their business model and talked about how involvement in their local community adds to this model. They have built relationships through this community involvement and feel initiatives such as their specially tailored course for a group of local school children are a way of giving something back. They also said that this sort of social crofting has a profit in terms of their own satisfaction. They agreed that if they were to do these activities more regularly, they may need to look at a cost attached but felt it was something it was hard to put a monetary value on. We then enjoyed a tour of the farm in the sunshine, a chance to ask questions and meet the friendly goats.

    Stephen Wiseman and Ruaraidh Milne from N4H (Nature for Health, for Happiness, in the Highlands), talked about their experience of time outside with groups bringing benefits for health and mental wellbeing and about the many pieces of research which back this up. Stephen and Ruaraidh feel there are obvious links to be made between their work and social crofting perhaps by bringing their experience of effective group work into a crofting situation.

    Lunch gave a chance for networking, exploring the new Gaining Ground website and also possible links between those present in terms of sharing of knowledge and experience. Then small focus groups looked at possible format and content of useful factsheets and toolkits. These will form part of the website and offer a starting point for Crofters and Smallholders interested in exploring how they might provide social Crofting opportunities.

    Karrie Marshall from Creativity in Care offered an inspiring end to the day with a presentation about their work which aims to ‘celebrate life, land and people across all ages and abilities’. Karrie showed film footage and talked about her own wide experience of positive outcomes when people spend time creatively outside.

    The project is beginning to gather momentum and attract attention in the wider press, as the objectives resonate with the current needs to improve health and wellbeing. Watch this space for more events taking place in Moray in 2020!