As we pull together the final details for the next Gaining Ground event, we share news of the last Social Crofting get together.
Hosted by Julie and Brian at Elchies Boer Goat Farm in Aberlour, the event brought together a range of crofters, smallholders, service providers and interested individuals. Lucy Beattie, Project Manager welcomed everyone and took the opportunity to launch the projects newly designed Digital Hub which offers a simple, user friendly space for sharing information about social crofting.
The activities for the day aimed to follow from and build on participant feedback from the first event at Glachbeg Croft, North Kessock. Our hosts Brian Cameron and Julie Comins 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.
Funded by Highland and Moray LEADER the project is beginning to attract attention in the wider press and chimes a chord with current focus on health and wellbeing.
Extract from The Crofter Magazine, December 2019