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January 2021

Growing our Future update - Consultation extended

The Highland Council is giving more time for people to take part in it’s draft food growing strategy – Growing Our Future.

The extension, until the 28 February, will allow outcomes from the up-coming Highland Good Food Conversation to be incorporated in the strategy.  The on-line conference is for anyone who is interested in the food sector and who wants to be part of the solution including farmers, chefs, bakers, third sector workers, food poverty campaigners and members of the public.

More information

Martin Sherring, for the HGFC Steering Group, writes

"We’re very pleased to see that they’re taking the conference seriously, and to have an early opportunity to show that the conference can make a practical difference."

Take part in the  consultation


October 2020

Growing Our Future - A Food Growing Strategy for Highland

From Highland Council website

Residents and businesses across Highland are being encouraged to provide their views on The Highland Council’s draft food growing strategy, Growing Our Future, which was opened for consultation on 28 September.  

Under the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, every local authority in Scotland is required to develop a food growing strategy to help support and encourage more local food growing amongst communities. 

In developing Growing Our Future, a range of different consultation exercises were undertaken, including a series of interviews and workshops with key Council officers, a suite of local community engagement sessions, as well as a community food growing survey to identify the key opportunities as well as barriers to growing your own across the region.

The Highland Council’s Climate Change Officer Keith Masson said: “We are delighted to finally publish Growing Our Future for consultation.  It has become clear whilst developing the Council’s  food growing strategy and as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, that there is increasing appetite across Highland for more “grow your own” schemes and initiatives, and this consultation gives Highland residents the opportunity to let us know if our strategy and action plan will help make that happen.”

The consultation can be found here, and will be open until Monday 23rd November.

Strategy document

Consultation document


October 2020

Planet Sutherland Sutherland Orchard Project

Planet Sutherland are hoping to expand a pilot apple planting project they started last year, and are asking people interested to complete a short survey.

We've already had a fantastic response including many helpful and fully appreciated comments and several communities wanting to join the project.
.   .   .  
Whilst we're thinking of apple trees in individual gardens, we'd be more than happy to work with villages to establish small orchards, and are also considering fruit bushes.

Ongoing, we hope to develop Apple Days where we can make juice or cider or even just share produce around the villages. 

Our dream? To make Sutherland self sufficient in apples!


August 2020

Growing your own in Shetland - Transition Turriefield

Welcome to Transition Turriefield, we grow all sorts of fruit and vegetables. You will find us in Sandness, a small community on the very edge of the far west mainland of Shetland.

Here at Turriefield we are passionate about local food. We want as many folk as possible in Shetland to be able to access healthy, fresh, chemical free produce. Having a small carbon footprint for our produce is also important, so we use growing methods that have as little negative environmental impact as possible.

Growing your own is the best way to have fresh local food. We love to share the knowledge we’ve gained about growing in Shetland. We run training courses and workshops all over Shetland and can give support and advice to get you growing too.

A customer says  “As an Island community, we do find it difficult to buy fresh veg; the vast majority of veg is imported and is days old before we get it. Here is an answer, right on our doorstep – literally.”


Turriefield Sandness Shetland  ZE2 9PL

01595 870272

website               Facebook


July 2020

Need for strong Good Food Nation Bill - Scottish Food Coalition

The Scottish Government are proposing a new law on food – a Good Food Nation Bill.  We believe they have some good ideas, but this law will need to be more ambitious to make the real changes that we think are needed.  Below you can find our proposals. . Legislation can play a crucial role in setting the direction of travel towards a fair, healthy and sustainable food system.  Establishing the core purpose of the food system in law, with accompanying systems of governance that ensure progress and accountability can catalyse a transformation in how our food system works.  By taking a whole system approach which recognises that food insecurity, climate change, public health, biodiversity, workers' rights, animal welfare, access to land, and waste are all interrelated, the Good Food Nation Bill will create a coherent framework that ensures people's fundamental human rights and the integrity of our ecological home are promoted today, and into the future.

Scottish Food Coalition   proposals    and    website

Scottish Government 'Proposals for Legislation'  December 2018
(The consultation is closed).

The Good Food Nation Bill appears not yet to have been published.  In answer to a parliamentary question on 6 February 2020, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism, said

"Work is under way on drafting the bill, and we plan to publish it as part of the legislative programme that is set out in the programme for government for this parliamentary year."


(March 2020)

Highland Food and Drink Club established

Highland Food and Drink Club is a new organisation set up in March by Golspie man John Murray, successful in retail business across the Highlands and with recent experience with Scotland Food and Drink, and Cecilia Grigor, Managing Director of Inverness marketing agency Planit Scotland.

In the words of their website

"The Highland Food and Drink Club was created through sheer passion for the food and drink industry in the Highlands. It’s no secret that the Highlands, and Scotland, offer some of the best eating and drinking experiences in the World. From the freshest seafood, to quenching drams and gins, to tempting cheeses and buttery shortbreads, there is plenty of choice for everyone.  The Highland Food & Drink Club directors recognise this vibrant, growing industry in the Highlands, and it’s about time it was celebrated!"

The club's initial objective is to provide an online store where producers can advertise their products in the form of a large online farmers’ market.

Customers will be able to purchase the goods on the site, which will then be facilitated by an Inverness-based wholesaler the club is working with. The orders will then be pulled together, allowing customers to buy from a range of suppliers at once, and then sent across the UK for delivery.

Read John Murray on his plans for the club
(Press & Journal  4 May 2020)

HFDC website


June 2020

Danger - Diamond-back moth on Brassicas

Here is some important information from Archie McLaren, of the Highlands and Islands Growers, about The Diamond-back moth danger to Brassica plants.

Read Archie's article

June 2020

Land opportunity at Knockbain Farm  Dingwall

Richard Lockett, a member of the family partnership which owns and runs Knockbain Farm above Dingwall, has emailed

"We’re advertising an opportunity to take on the management of approximately 100 acres of land here at Knockbain Farm near Dingwall. The attached document sets out the all the details of the opportunity.

"I’d be really grateful if you could circulate this to anyone who you think might be interested."

The introduction to the offer document states

Knockbain Farm is a 200 ha mixed farm adjacent to the town of Dingwall, in the Scottish Highlands. The farm is currently divided into in-hand and tenanted units and is managed as a partnership by four members of the Lockett family. The land at Blackwells is one of the tenanted units and forms the basis of this opportunity.

The in-hand operation consists of arable land and a small herd of Luing cattle. In addition, other land at Knockbain is let to a neighbouring farm on a long-term basis and is not included in this offer.  

Food production, wildlife conservation, biodiversity, landscape amenity, climate change, and the provision of public access are all important aspects of how the land is managed. The farm also provides tourist accommodation and hosts a co-operatively owned wind turbine. 
.   .   .   
The Scottish Government has a desire to see publicly owned land used to give opportunities to New Entrants to Agriculture and those progressing from New Entrant status. Forest Enterprise Scotland (FES) has already contributed to this by the creation of a number of Starter Farms. This offer has some similarities with the FES programme.

We will do this by weighting applications in favour of suitably qualified new entrants and progressors, or those with a positive, innovative, enterprising approach to land management. 

Read the offer document


June 2020

BBC food Programme about seeds

Lesley has recommended the Radio 4 Food Programme broadcast on 14 June - all about seeds.

Seed Stories from the Lockdown - Dan Saladino meets people who turned to seeds and grew food in the lockdown. As well as supermarket panic buying, seed sellers also saw huge spikes in sales. Dan finds out why.

You can listen to the broadcast  here .


May 2020

Highland Wholefoods lockdown shopping

While their shop on Harbour Road in Inverness is closed, Highland Wholefoods are offering an email and telephone ordering system with options for collection and delivery.  Details are in their latest  newsletter .


How we can help the bees

Here is an article by JJ Gladwin from 2018 about how we can help bumble bees and other invertebrates thrive in our gardens.


March 2020

If you missed Potato Day - Tatties still available

We have seed tatties left over from Potato Day - available for anyone who wants to have a go at 'growing your own'.

They're being stored by three folk (see details below) across the Black Isle - contact by email to make arrangements to collect from any of them.  Social distances will be observed. 

A small donation to TBI via the website would be welcome at

Culbokie - Martin Sherring    Email

N Kessock - Anne Thomas    Email
(See below)

Near Killen - Trish McKeggie   Email

Seed potato varieties available from Anne Thomas at North Kessock
First early
Abbott, Casablanca, Epicure , Foremost, Rocket
Second early
Wilja, Sunrise, Saggitta
Bambino, King Edward, Sunset
Late Maincrop
Arran Victory, Cara


March 2020

Pocket Orchard planted at North Kessock

Anne Thomas, instigator and leading light of the pocket orchard project, writes

In another world a couple of weeks ago just when we were starting to worry about whether or not events should take place and armed with gloves and gel, we planted the community pocket orchard at North Kessock. 

Thanks to the 6 volunteers in total who helped plant 19 fruit trees; 16 apples, one cherry, one plum and one pear and helped prepare for a fruitful and more resilient community in the future.


January 2020

Successful Gardeners' Quiz Time evening

It is reported that once people turned up and the teams were formed and named (see the score sheet), last Friday's Gardeners' Quiz time event in Tore Hall (17 January) turned out to be a successful and enjoyable evening, efficiently organised by Julie, Penny and Lesley, and ably quizmastered by Julian.

We could all do with double sunshine at this time of year, so it's appropriate that they were the winners.


Highland Wholefoods Winter newsletter

The newsletter announces the setting up of a cleaning products refill station, plans to introduce a dry goods (beans and pulses) refill station next year, and the establishment of a fortnightly delivery run to Fort William.

Read the newsletter


Food Poverty and Food Waste Seminar report

Inverness Foodstuff and HTSI (Highland Third Sector Interface) recently jointly hosted a seminar in Inverness on Food Poverty and Food Waste (11 September 2019).  Iain McKenzie, Highland Adult Health & Wellbeing Network Development Officer for HTSI, has emailed with three immediate action points arising from the seminar, and summary notes of the table discussions which took place.  The action points are

  1. Setting up a WhatsApp group to improve communication between those receiving and distributing food in Inverness.  June MacLeod, Operations Manager at Inverness Foodstuff will take this forward and will be in touch with those of you in this grouping soon.
  1. Consider the potential for asking Cfine to help develop the use and distribution of surplus food in Highland.  An exploratory meeting is scheduled for this week with Highland Council, conference steering group, and Cfine. We will circulate more information on this potential development after the meeting.
    [Cfine is Community Food Initiatives North East, a charity based in Aberdeen.]
  1. Initiate a Highland Poverty Action Network. I would like to pull the first meeting of this Action Group together before the Christmas break so I have booked a room at The Spectrum Centre on 17th December 11am-1pm   If you, or anyone you know, would like to attend this meeting, be invited to future meetings and/or would just like to be kept informed of this action group could you please email me at;  and we will get things moving forward.   

The notes of the table discussions, on the three themes of Food Poverty, Food Waste and Community Responses, are available here.


"Modified" - A Film About GMOs and Corruption of the Food Supply for Profit

Earlier this year TBI director Anne Thomas drew attention to this film as perhaps being one that TBI might show.  At that time however TBI, with Muir Movies, already had a confirmed program of films for this year and a commitment to take three more from Take One Action, so there was no possibility of a TBI showing in the near future.

Anne forwarded a review of what appears to be a very interesting and perhaps disturbing film, which will certainly be borne in mind for a possible TBI showing in the future.


Nourish Food Conference Edinburgh  21 & 22 November 2019

From the conference website

"Scotland is signed up to becoming a Good Food Nation – a country where we can all afford and enjoy good food without messing up the planet or exploiting our fellow humans. How hard can that be? That’s what we’ll be asking you to figure out at this year’s Nourish conference.

"The conference is all about achieving change – how we get from where we are to where we need and want to be? For much of the two days you will be working in a team of 11 with a facilitator to come up with your team’s game plan – how can we deliver on the Good Food Nation goals?

"Along the way you will have the chance to listen to and work with pioneers, thinkers and changemakers, and to access ideas from Scotland and around the world. At the end of the event, we’ll publish every team’s work as the conference report."

More information and registration


September 2019

Multiple Local Food initiatives around Bristol . . .

An article in the Guardian Weekly of 30 August has drawn our attention to the wealth of local Food & Growing activity around Bristol, which gained the European Green Capital award in 2015 and has Caroline Lucas as one of its MPs.  The Bristol Food Producers organisation lists among its members twenty-five local producers within 10 miles of Bristol, another eight inside a 50 mile radius, eleven 'starter producers' and six distributors/retailers.

The Guardian Weekly article takes the form of an interview with Mary Conway, who formerly worked for a veg-box scheme in Norwich, and now runs a smallholding near the centre of Bristol she calls Purple Patch, where she lives with her carpenter husband and three children.  The venture started by her getting permission to take over an unused piece of land on a local farm, and she now grows vegetables on about 1/3 of an acre, with a large polytunnel, and also keeps a small herd of Dexter cattle, Gloucester Old Spot pigs and chickens.

Bristol also boasts a wide-ranging Sustainability organisation - Bristol Green Capital Partnership, founded in 2007, which describes itself as  "a unique partnership of over 850+ member organisations who have committed to working towards Bristol becoming a sustainable city with a high-quality of life for all."

Bristol Food Producers article on Purple Patch

Bristol Food Producers members list

Bristol Green Capital Partnership website

. . . and the Black Isle.

You probably know that the Black Isle and immediate hinterland has its own local food producers.  Here are two of them talking about their businesses and the advantages of local growing, taken from the Our Local Larder website

Dan Ross  -  Black Isle Veg Boxes

Jo Hunt  -  Knockfarrel Produce


Glasshouse at  Inverness Botanic Garden


February 2019

Old varieties from the Organic Gardening catalogue

You may find this email from Organic Gardening of interest, or it may be too commercial.  You can link from it to the full catalogue if you wish.


Growing in Gairloch 

See the Other Growing groups page for information about the GALE Gardening Group and a link to the GALE newsletter.


January 2019 - Seed Sovereignty - email and video from Maria Scholten  about

The Palestine Seed Library


January 2019

Scotland a Good Food Nation?

The Scottish Government has set out an ambition to become a Good Food Nation – one in which everybody can take pride, pleasure and benefit from their food. In this talk, the Executive Director of Nourish Scotland explores what it means to be a Good Food Nation, and outlines some of the challenges Scotland will face in getting there.      Talk in Perth Tuesday 22 January .

Good Food Nation Bill Consultation

The Scottish Government have opened up a consultation on the proposed Good Food Nation Bill, this is a fantastic opportunity for our voices to shape the future of food in Scotland! You can make your views heard here: Good Food Nation Proposals for Legislation. For more information on the Good Food Nation Bill you may find the Scottish Food Coalition's website helpful.

November 2018         Electric food

Julie Gibson has drawn attention to an article in the Guardian by George Monbiot, with a provocative idea and lots of links to related topics.

An Electrifying Idea

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 31st October 2018

"What if we abandoned photosynthesis as the means of producing food, and released most of the world’s surface from agriculture?

"It’s not about “them”, it’s about us. The horrific rate of biological annihilation reported this week – 60% of the Earth’s vertebrate wildlife gone since 1970 – is driven primarily by the food industry.  Farming and fishing are the major causes of the collapse of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.  Meat – consumed in greater quantities by the rich than by the poor – is the strongest cause of all.  We might shake our heads in horror at the clearance of forests, the drainage of wetlands, the slaughter of predators and the massacre of sharks and turtles by fishing fleets, but it is done at our behest."

.   .   .   .   .   .   

Read the full article 

George Monbiot's website .


No Dig Gardening

A member attended a talk organised by Perth Organic Gardeners given by Charles Dowding from Somerset about no-dig gardening. 
"I hope I have got the following details right, but you can check and gain much more information by going to his website:
He started by showing us a paddock which, with plants put in a layer of compost placed on top of it had, within six months, become a productive garden.  For the first year he places cardboard around the whole gardening area in order to kill weeds that might creep in, but paths within the garden he leaves as soil and he ignores compaction.  Cardboard, plastic, straw he has tried but finds they attract slugs.  In fact, he keeps all his area as free as possible from anything which might hide these beasts.
Persistent weeding is the key - though he says he does just 2 hours a week plus 1 hour edging.  He hoes or rakes regularly and just pulls perennial weeds such as couch, bindweed and ground elder.  The only exceptions he mentioned were brambles and dochans - the latter he digs out up to 6" deep. He works on the principle of exhausting the root system and says that creeping buttercup goes after 4 to 5 months, dandelions after 5 to 6 months and 8 months for couch.  He had pretty big, wooden compost heaps and said he would include everything: cardboard, paper and even bindweed and couch grass!
Just once a year he applies 2" of compost to all his garden and does no further feeding, not even on tomatoes.  He gets £22,000 worth of salad crops from this and, by picking, not cutting lettuce could achieve it with just four sowings per year though does also do six sowings.   Of course, compost is the key and on his 1/4 acre plot he uses: 6 tons of his home compost, 3 tons of cow manure and straw compost, 1 ton of horse manure and straw compost, 3 tons of mushroom compost and 3 tons of green waste compost.

A few tips are: don't bother hardening off plants, just cover them with fleece once they are planted out; Kuri squash might do in Scotland because it is ready by October; he believes in using copper tools; he grows his runner beans, Czar and Borlotti, for dried beans to be used in the winter; lay potatoes on top of the soil and cover with grass, straw, though preferably with compost (to discourage slugs); buy maiden fruit trees - M9 if growing amongst vegetables; compost is too wet if you can squeeze more than 2 drops of water from a handful; he is experimenting with it, but isn't sure that rotation is necessary; use a hot bed of stable manure with straw on top for germinating seeds; use East Riding organic compost for seeds; try growing Stevia as a substitute for sugar; for a change, grow Oxalis tuberosa or Yacon; you can mow rough grass before covering it with compost.

If you don't dig then carbon dioxide is not released, the worm population increases, weed seeds aren't brought to the surface, evaporation is reduced, there is better drainage, mycorrhizae are left intact - they grow at about 6" - 8" a year and Dowding feels that there is vigorous regrowth of weeds if the soil is disturbed.
Also, compost on top keeps water in and helps the ground absorb water."

February 2018       JJ Gladwin on how we can help the bees. 
JJ Gladwin, one of the panellists at our recent very successfuil Gardeners' Question Time event, where she answered one or two questions touching on the need for bee friendly and invertebrate friendly gardens, has written up some of the points contained in her answers as general advice to gardeners.  You can read her article here.

Since 1994 JJ Gladwin has been making a garden at Old Allangrange, which was recently the subject of a 'Scottish Garden of the Season' feature on the website Discover Scottish Gardens, which is well worth a look.  View the feature here.


January 2018    
There's a new note and link to GROW - A European growing organisation - on the  Other Growing Groups and Courses  page.


The Black Isle

The Black Isle is a fertile area, perfect for growing a broad range of crops and rearing poultry and livestock.  Supporting local producers boosts the local economy - and, crucially, the closer the food is from source to plate, the better it tastes! Growing and eating locally is satisfying, tasty and fun.  And being in tune with the turning of the seasons means there's always something different on the horizon to look forward to.

Our Black Isle Larder website set up in 2017 at  replaces our earlier Local Larder booklet,  and provides an extensive directory of producers and suppliers of local food and places to eat and drink on and around the Black Isle.

Transition Black Isle's food group kicked off with two flagship projects in 2010, thanks to funding from the Climate Challenge Fund run by Keep Scotland Beautiful.   Grow North and the Highland Food Challenge helped householders across the Black Isle savour a greater proportion of local food and cut their carbon footprints.  We set up two community gardens, one of which, at Culbokie, is still active though now less closely associated with TBI.

The Grow North project was restarted in 2016 and has run every year since, with practical  workshops on a variety of topics and open garden days in the summer - see the  Grow North  page and the  calendar  for details.  Two other very popular regular events are our Gardeners' Question Time in January and Potato Day in March, at which over sixty varieties of seed potatoes are on sale.

The drop-down menu on the Food tab at the top of the page offers some links to projects and resources.


Here are links to two community growing schemes in the north of England            



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