Lochranza community growing it for themselves

Potatoes growing at the community farm.

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By Hugh Boag

A community farm has been created in Lochranza to encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The community farm is tenanted by Scott Murdoch and the transfer of the land from Charles Fforde of Arran Estates was facilitated by the Arran Pioneer Project Community Interest Company.

A planning application has been made to formalise the farm project across the road from Lochranza distillery.

In a statement supporting the application Mr Murdoch states: ‘With the help of the Pioneer Project, I have reinstalled an old fence around an area that was previously used for sheep grazing.

‘The objective of the farm is to engage the community in growing fruit and vegetables for themselves. We are doing this in an ecologically sensitive fashion, without the use of chemicals. We have a no dig agricultural policy wherein we build our own soil using green and brown compost along with seaweed.

‘We have created raised beds to grow vegetables, erected a polytunnel for accelerated growing and planted a fruit tree orchard with children. This was all done safely during lockdown and was a key factor in the mental well-being of our community. We were aided by the elderly population who shared their knowledge and those with young children were able to meet outside socially through the work we carried out on the farm together.

‘The principal objective is for me to run this farm for the community with those helping out being able to grow their own food. Any glut in food production will be offered for sale by way of an honesty box. Local businesses have also approached me asking for good quality vegetables that have low food miles. Although this is not a priority we, as a growing community, are open to these ideas too. So far the project has been funded by the Arran Pioneer Project and all work has been on a voluntary basis.’

The Pioneer Project is an island-wide scheme which works on the lease/donation of areas of land on Arran to cultivate and grow food with the support of local commercial producers and members of the community. Sites at Lamlash, Kilpatrick, Cladach, Pirnmill, Corrie and Whiting Bay have already been created.

The aim is to help ensure the provision of fresh fruit and vegetables in case of any issues regarding food security for island residents due to the Covid-19 situation and beyond. The sites are to be used for community resilience farming with the aim of a long-term successful partnership between producers and islanders for the benefit of the entire.

Visit the Pioneer Project website to find out more, as well as how to take part in their volunteer days. https://pioneerproject.scot/