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Food and Growing

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July 2019

Highland Wholefoods newsletter

We've received a Summer Newsletter from Highland Wholefoods  Inverness.  They are experimenting with using compostable bags, but having difficulty finding large ones (1kg) which are strong enough.


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.

CCT appeal for plants

In the January Culbokie Community Trust newsletter, Penny Edwards writes

"In May CCT will have the usual plant stall, where you will be able to pick up a wide range of plants both indoor and out at reasonable prices. Maybe, you are you a grower with a few spare plants, or maybe you could plant a few extra. It would be great if we could increase the range available. All proceeds go to CCT for use in the Community. Please get in touch if you can help."     01349 877822


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.

New Garden Planner available from

New Organic Seed Catalogue  from Organic Gardening

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 .


March 2018         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.



Food is a topic close to the hearts of many and Transition Black Isle is no exception.

As well as tantalising the tastebuds, fresh, local produce is good for happiness, our own health and that of the planet.

A vast proportion of what people eat is transported hundreds or thousands of miles by truck, train, ship and plane, causing massive emissions of greenhouse gases, which are causing dangerous climate change.

Taking strawberries in December or air-freighted sugar snap peas from Asia for granted doesn't make a lot of sense.

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 new (2017) Black Isle Larder website 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 has continued through 2016 and 2017, 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.

Food News

September 2016

TBI director Vanessa Halhead has drawn attention to this Worldwatch article about how Cuba has transformed its Agricultural in a small-scale and sustainable way since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"Four Important Lessons from Cuba’s Urban Food Survival Strategy"

The Fife Diet was an ambitious healthy and local growing and eating project run in Fife over several years.  The culmination of its work was the production of a wonderful growing, cooking and eating 'calendar', not relating to any particular year, offering a wealth of help, advice and recipes for healthy eating month by month.  It has been made available online, but via a publishing system which makes it very difficult to read.  There may also be browser issues - Chrome seems to handle it better than Firefox.

Try this link to get at least an overall impression.  There is a zoom control at bottom left, and a more useful full-screen control at bottom right.  When in full screen use keyboard left and right arrows to turn the pages.


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



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Forthcoming Events…

Friday 30 August
12:00 Inverness Lunchtime for Climate
Saturday 31 August
10:00 North Kessock Community Market
Thursday 5 September
19:00 More than Honey - a TBI/ Take One Action film
Friday 6 September
12:00 Inverness Lunchtime for Climate
Saturday 7 September
10:00 Fortrose Community Market
Friday 13 September
12:00 Inverness Lunchtime for Climate
Saturday 14 September
11:00 Cromarty Community Market
Friday 20 September
12:00 Inverness Lunchtime for Climate

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We are part of the rapidly expanding worldwide Transition Towns movement. The Black Isle is a peninsula of about 100 sq miles ENE of Inverness in Scotland, UK.