Arran’s Food Journey secures funding boost

A fruit box from Woodside Farm in Kildonan which produces both fruit and vegetables as well as free range eggs and rare breed pork.

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Arran’s Food Journey, a new group that aims to grow a thriving food and drink network for the island, has secured funding to champion local produce.

The group, which is made up of a diverse group of members including food producers, farmers, manufacturers, environmental and community groups, is receiving the funding from industry leadership body, Scotland Food and Drink as part of a new national £250k fund, supported by the Scottish government, to back the ongoing development of Scotland’s regional food groups.

Founded recently, Arran’s Food Journey is one of Scotland’s newest regional food groups which will join the 13 other established groups which includes: Appetite for Angus, Ayrshire Food Network, Bute Kitchen, Discover Inverclyde’s Food and Drink, Eat Drink Hebrides and East Lothian Food and Drink.

The group aims to collate and tell Arran’s food story to encourage more sustainable food tourism, improving collaboration between food businesses, increasing sustainability and encouraging consumers to champion local products.

In recent months Arran’s food producers and community growing initiatives have embarked on a major drive to make local food accessible to Arran’s community. The island’s food and drink brands have already expanded to become recognised on a national and international level with Arran ice cream, beer, whisky, cheese and oatcakes among the contemporary favourites.

The fund will benefit 14 groups across the country by resourcing coordinator posts and will include match-funding from partners including local authorities. It aims to create an active network of regional ambassadors who work in conjunction with local authorities to promote regional food and drink and tourism strategies.

Regional food groups like Arran’s Food Journey plan and deliver projects such as increasing consumption and supply of local produce; upskilling food and drink businesses; hosting events; improving digital developments and e-commerce with local companies and, crucially, developing food and drink tourism.

Group coordinator Cameron Bruce said: ‘Supporting local food and drink businesses is a key way in which people can help bring balance to their local community, economy and environment.

‘Buying from local producers and supporting community land initiatives bring a sense of belonging, money spent locally will stay in the local economy benefiting the place you live. There are great environmental benefits including reducing food miles by sourcing food locally to where it is produced.

‘With this new funding from Scotland Food and Drink to recruit and resource a coordinator, Arran’s food and drink scene can – and will – continue to flourish.’

A food producing allotment at the Arran Community Land Initiative. No_B40food01

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during a cabinet visit to Arran where delegates learned about the food and drink offerings from the island. No_B40food02

A fruit box from Woodside Farm social enterprise in Kildonan. No_B40food03