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The potential of agritourism was in the spotlight at the second virtual meeting of Arran’s Food Journey, when representatives from the island’s food and drink sector were joined by the three Ayrshire councils food sector development officer.
At the December meeting, a presentation was given by Caroline Millar of Agritourism Scotland which is behind the Go Rural Scotland initiative with its iconic logo, which sits under the umbrella of the Scottish Tourism alliance.
Caroline, a farmer from Angus, described agritourism as the meeting of agriculture, rural tourism and leisure and food and drink tourism. Although agritourism is not new here, it has the potential to deliver £250m of income across Scotland, with Arran perfectly placed to have a share of this.
The meeting heard how several farms across Scotland had become agritourism monitor farms. This is a three-year programme, established in 2019, to provide expert and peer group support, knowledge exchange, skills development and confidence building to a wide range of agritourism and rural businesses across Scotland.
Set up alongside traditional faming activities, agritourism businesses in the monitor programme include farm shops and cafes, a wedding venue and a pottery as well as more traditional holiday accommodation and farm tours. A key stipulation of using the Go Rural brand is that businesses must be part of a real farm.
Scottish agritourism is receiving significant support from VisitScotland, including the collection of agritourism statistics and increasing farming and food content on their website. It would welcome the opportunity to work with Arran’s Food Journey and VisitArran to develop the opportunity for Arran to showcase its unique farming, food and cultural experiences.
Capturing and telling food and farming stories is a key ambition that matches one of Arran’s Food Journey’ own goals, It’s especially relevant with 2022 being VisitScotland’s themed Year of Scotland’s Stories.
Scottish agritourism is looking to support farmers are at the heart of the community and have a key role in managing the environment and supporting wildlife and nature as custodians of the countryside.
It will work with them to exploit the growth area of trails that link different farms. These would allow visitors to experience Arran’s rural culture and food and drink with their day starting and ending at the farm they are staying on.
Go Rural has been running virtual farm tours this year that have been seen by more than 200,000 people.
Arran’s Ailsa Currie has presented a couple of these, showcasing Bellevue Farm and food and drink from across Arran. Audiences like hearing farming stories and finding out more about Scottish food. This leads to future visits and a demand for local food especially if it can be tasted on the farm where they are staying.
Caroline rounded off by telling the group Arran is ahead of the game with its iconic food products and tourism offering.
Agritourism Scotland would be keen to help others on Arran develop a diverse and complementary agritourism offering to create a journey that could be signposted from a central hub.
VisitArran’s Sheila Gilmore said Arran businesses had a good track record of offering complementary products. Taste of Arran’s Alastair Dobson reflected that Arran’s Food Journey’s name perfectly describes the idea of an emotional exploration of Arran’s food and drink story by visitors. Others identified that it describes a chance for residents to reconnect with Arran food and farming.
A selection of the food and drink produced on Arran. 01_B53rural01
The Go Rural Scotland logo. 01_B53rural02