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Arran’s Food Journey, the island’s new regional food group held its first full meeting on Thursday October 15 and more than 20 organisations with an interest in Arran’s food and drink sector from farming, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, community and environmental enterprises were represented.
The new group is one of 14 which has been set up across the country, funded to the tune of £250,000 by Scotland Food & Drink, to promote local produce.
Arran group coordinator Cameron Bruce outlined the evolving food journey that Arran has been on over the centuries; from illicit whisky stills to today’s state of the art distilleries, from pastoral, and more sustainable farming where produce was grown for own use and sale around the island to today’s community growing and high quality farming produce. He summarised that Arran has a fantastic food and drink product that the group should seek to build on with its three overarching goals:
1. Support Arran’s producers and food enterprises.
2. Stronger Arran food supply chain & environmental standards/quality credentials.
3. Arran’s food story is told and is having a positive impact on sustainable food tourism.
The key aims of Arran’s Food Journey are to facilitate and aid cooperation, to set up different teams to develop opportunities, to act as a collective and not be a large organisation giving top down leadership.
Everyone attending the meeting was given the chance to outline what they hoped to get from the group and the opportunities they saw it having for them and Arran.
Two opportunities came to the fore for the group to develop: Telling Arran’s food story to encourage people to eat and drink local produce and encourage sustainable tourism as well as encouraging education and wellbeing.
The group discussed how Arran’s food story starts with its fantastic raw product such as meat, milk, or barley for the distillery from our farmers or fruit and vegetables from our community and on farm growers. That the journey is carried on by our manufacturers who turn that raw product into delicious food and drink, our retailers who supply it to consumers and Arran’s hospitality providers many of whom showcase Arran’s food to our residents and visitors.
The group discussed ways of collecting and telling Arran’s food story and how each different sector can play a part, be it through showcasing our food and drink product, getting our stories in the news or using our new social media tag #WeAreArranFood.
It was pointed out that the lack of multinational chains on Arran gives us the opportunity to present both the holistic and true vision of food and drink from Arran and our efforts to maintain the balance between our community, environment and economy.
Participants at the meeting also spoke with passion about the varied opportunities of education and wellbeing around Arran’s food.
These included giving visitors the chance to learn the full facts of Arran produce from farm to fork: What makes Arran produce so special, its land, microclimate, history and people. The reality of the £ per kilo return needed to make a commercial farm viable.
That tours give an opportunity for young folk from Arran and beyond to see the different jobs that take Arran’s food and drink from production to service in the hospitality sector.
Community growers outlined how their initiatives are increasing and evolving. How they provide opportunities for individual learning about growing and our environment, improving wellbeing by working on the land and helping others in the community. This will be much needed in the tough times we face ahead.
Arran’s Food Journey has made a fast start in building support and engagement. As well as the opportunities outlined above, they are keen to progress ideas that help Arran’s food chain, environmental standards and food quality recognition.
To do that the group would like to engage with the widest possible group from across the commercial and community food organisations, if you would like to find out more or get involved please email Cameron at email@example.com
A tractor at work at Bellevue Farm. NO_B43bellevue01
Cows in the field at Bellevue Farm. NO_B43bellevue02