Scottish Rural Network update: foraging, and future of rural economy

SCottish Wild Food Festival sign
Norette Ferns

Norette Ferns from the Scottish Rural Network Support Unit, blogs on some of the team's activities during September.

The last time I went foraging was circa 1988 picking brambles along the canalside in Inverness (if my memory serves me) to take back to my granny for jam making. (It was the best jam.)  I don't know my sorrel from my wild garlic, so it was fantastic to get along to the first-ever Scottish Wild Food Festival last month.

The one-day event at Cardross Estate, Port of Menteith was a great chance to learn more about wild food and get involved in all kinds of wild food activities -- from a wild ice cream demo, to making flatbreads topped with foraged ingredients to foraging walks, talks and demos. It was particularly lovely to see so many young children there learning all about the food they can find in their local environment. 

I tried all kinds of delicious wild foods including chanterelles dipped in chocolate!

The festival was the flagship event in Foraging Fortnight -- a celebration of Scotland’s natural environment and wild food with a series of events taking place across Fife, Moray, Lanarkshire, Orkney and Forth Valley and Lomond supported by LEADER in these areas. 

foraged toppings for flatbreads

I was there to film some interviews with participants of the Forth Valley and Lomond LEADER #wildwonders project, a unique wild food training programme. What really struck me was the enthusiasm of everyone I spoke to, not just about the benefits of taking part in the project but for wild food and foraging in general. The day definitely inspired me to try my hand at foraging again -- 30 years after my last go!

If the Scottish Wild Food Festival sounds like something you'd have enjoyed, don't worry! The festival and Foraging Fortnight will be back in May next year. You can find out more on the Foraging Fortnight website and I recommend following @foragingfortnight on Instagram

Panel discussion at Rural Enterprise Futures event

Members of our team, and particularly Lorraine, were busy last month organising the Rural Enterprise Futures event in Edinburgh. The event was hosted by the LEADER Local Action Group and Fisheries Local Action Group Chairs' Group. It was a lively day with presentations and workshop discussions around the rural economy and in particular future opportunities. 

One of the highlights for me was the speech from Robin McAlpine, Director of Common Weal. He was really passionate about the many opportunities for rural Scotland in a sustainable economy including carbon capture, renewable energy and wood processing. 

You can read a short event report and see a video from the conference in Event highlights opportunities for rural economy

Towards the end of the month, I swapped rural for urban and travelled to Manchester for a public sector social media conference. It's always great to learn about new ways of doing things and topics included live video and crisis management (which hopefully I won't need!).

Hannah has put together a review of Scottish Rural Network Support Unit communications activities from April to June this year, which looks rather nice. Take a look at the document.

Don't forget you can follow us on social media:​

And if you haven't already done so, sign up for our weekly newsletter!