Gaining Ground project kicks off at Glachbeg Croft

group photo of Gaining ground event participants in front of Glachbeg Croft building
Norette Ferns

People gathered from across Moray and the Highlands recently for the launch of a new social crofting project.​

The sun shone for the launch of Gaining Ground on 27 June 2019 held at Glachbeg Croft, near Inverness.

The year-long pilot project is being run by the Scottish Crofting Federation and is supported by Moray LEADER and Highland LEADER.

The aim is to bring together a network of people in Highland and Moray to develop knowledge, share experience and support each other to deliver green care as a service on croft land which can provide an ethical diversification enterprise for crofters and crofting communities.

Lucy Beattie from the Scottish Crofting Federation welcomed participants and gave an introduction to the project. 

Participants enjoying lunch and sunshine at Glachbeg Croft

After a delicious networking lunch, participants heard from a number of speakers involved in care farming or social crofting, and the chance to ask questions.

The speakers were:

  • ​Caroline Matheson - history of Care Farming Scotland (now part of Social Farms and Gardens)
  • Karen Davidson - Social Farms and Gardens, Scotland
  • Becs Barkers - Community Contracts, Self Directed Support
  • Chris Ritchie - Moray Wellbeing Hub
  • Katie Webster - Breezy Croft

​This was a great opportunity to hear from those who have been involved in care farming or social crofting, as well as from organisations who can offer support and practical help. The issue of timing was highlighted as important, and there was a feeling that now is good time to be looking at exploring 'green care' as the concept is now better understood.

While sharing her inspiring experience of providing services, Katie Webster from Breezy Croft in Caithness said it was important to remember that not everyone that lives in a rural area has access to nature. For example, some people living in Wick or Thurso may only get out to the doctor's surgery and the supermarket. 

It was clear from discussions that there is a lot of interest in social crofting and the life-changing benefits it brings to both people using the services provided and crofters. There was also practical discussion about some of the challenges, including funding for service users.  

Participants on tour of Glachbeg Croft

Bob Bull from Glachbeg Croft then gave a whistle stop tour of the event venue, including a look at a woodland area, polytunnel, chicken area and livestock. Bob describes Glachbeg as a toolbox which can be used by different people in different ways. They employ four staff and work with a range of clients, aged 6 to mid-50s. 

Following the tour, participants split into groups to explore the question: how can we make social crofting work for crofters, service providers and people using services.

If you're interested in finding out more about the Gaining Ground project and want to get involved you can:

​A website for the project is currently under construction.