Rural Network 'in the field' in rural Perthshire

Jody Fleck

I had the pleasure in organising a visit to Cultybraggan Camp 21 and Comrie Croft last week, on behalf of the Scottish Rural Network.

Officials from Scottish Government saw and heard about some of the amazing projects and local initiatives from representatives of the Comrie Development Trust, Comrie Croft and Tomnah'a Market Garden.

Cultybraggan was a prisoner of war camp during the second world war, playing host to some of the most extreme Nazis. It has a gruesome, but fascinating history and it was great to hear how this very special site has been developed as an asset for the community – they have commercial lets, sports fields, a community orchard and allotments, a heritage trail, a small visitor centre in one of the Nissen huts and a biomass heating system.

All of this has been keeping the community very busy over the last few years, but they have plans to develop things even further, including self-catering accommodation (staying in Nissen huts would be a unique experience!) and superfast broadband.

In the afternoon, we took everyone to Comrie Croft to hear about the work they do there. Comrie Croft has around 16km of mountain bike trails and provides camping and hostel accommodation. It even does weddings in the old barn! It was really interesting to hear about a successful enterprise which prides itself on investing in the local community and environment.

It recently leased some of its land to the Tomnah'a Market Garden, who are really only at the start of their journey with high hopes of supplying fresh food to local businesses and households from next year.

Everyone had a great day out and left with a better understanding of what it is like for those delivering projects ‘in the field’ and the challenges they face. I am hoping that the Scottish Rural Network can continue to bring policy officials together with stakeholders in this way to help share knowledge, ideas and understanding.