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Making a Living from Local Food

Making a Living from Local Food

A programme offering mentoring and peer support to aspiring and recently established local food entrepreneurs from across Scotland.

For whom?

For all growers, crofters, dairy producers, bakers, butchers, juice-makers, retailers, caterers…

…who are passionate about making tasty, nutritious and sustainably produced food available locally through short supply chains…..

…who are in the process of setting up a local food enterprise (within the next 6 months) or have just started one (<3 years)…..

…who would like to get support from an experienced mentor, and meet and learn from other local food entrepreneurs from across Scotland…..


How does it work?

The programme is designed to offer you tailored support, wherever you’re at with your local food enterprise:

  • You’ll be part of a peer group of 5-7 participants in roughly the same area, and matched with one mentor. This year’s mentors are Rob Davidson from The Cyrenians Farm near Edinburgh, Howard Wilkinson from the Ayrshire Food Network in Ayrshire and Jo Hunt from Knockfarrel Produce in the Inverness area.
  • Over the course of the 9 months, you’ll meet up to 5 times with your peer group for a session facilitated by your mentor. Together you can explore particular themes and challenges in developing and running your businesses. Where possible, these sessions will be hosted in turns by you and other participants at your own farms/businesses, to maximise learning.
  • You’ll spend up to 5 one-to-one hours with your personal mentor over the course of the programme (phone/skype/in person) and you can decide with your mentor when this suits you best.
  • You’ll be invited to attend up to 3 whole-group events hosted in locations across Scotland. These events are full days, themed, and offer a busy programme including at least one workshop, guest speakers, a potluck lunch sharing local produce, and at least one site visit/tour or other form of case study.  The first whole-group meeting this year is in Perthshire in March. The second one is a wider networking event in early summer in Fife. This event is open to alumni and other local food producers. The closing session will be in early November in Stirling
  • You’ll have access to various resources and materials online and to the Facebook group to connect with other local food producers.

The programme is flexible and self-led: it’s up to the participants to make the most of the mentoring and peer-learning opportunities provided. The programme facilitates the sharing of knowledge, skills and experiences but is not a training programme as such. In previous years it has become clear that the peer site visits and all-group events are particularly valued. Note that these will require a certain amount of travelling and time. Commitment to setting aside time and other resources for these meetings is important for full participation in the programme. 

Partners are welcome to take part in the programme together and put in a joint application for a single fee: You’ll be part of the same peer group with the same mentor.

We recognise that travel costs especially for participants living in the Highlands & Islands can be significant and we are looking for funding to help with these. Though we cannot guarantee this, if this is potentially a barrier to participating in the programme for you, please let us know.

How much?

Participants are asked to contribute £120 towards the programme costs. If you are or become a Nourish member, you’ll receive a discount of £20. It’s possible to pay in installments. Note that you will also have to cover your own travel to group events and peer group sessions. If the costs pose a barrier for you to take part, please get in touch with us.

Making a Living from Local Food is kindly funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund.


When and how to apply?

We are currently in our third year of the programme: The 2018 cohort is benefiting from this support until the end of Nov 2018. Applications for this third year of the programme are now closed but we are looking to continue with a new programme of support in 2019 TBC. 

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, or if you want to express interest for future support of this type. You can e-mail the programme coordinator Miesbeth Knottenbelt at localfood @ or call the Nourish Office.

Person working in a potato field

Making a Living from Local Food 2017

Our 2017 cohort had 14 applications, bringing together 22 participants with a good spread of experience. Some were well-established businesses, others starting out; there was a good gender balance; and our participants were from right across Scotland: from Mull, Skye and Kyle of Lochalsh in the West, to Aberdeen and Ballater in the East; from Tain up North, to Kircudbright in the South.

Together these participants run a range of businesses: there are growers of flowers, soft fruit, tea, herbs, orchards, salads and veg; livestock raisers (cattle, sheep, hens and pork); bakers; and various other food processors (meats, pickles, jams, herbs, teas and more).

We had a successful full-day meeting at Comrie, Perthshire, where everybody met each other and their mentors for the first time. We shared a potluck lunch and were shown around Tomnah’a market garden where Sam and Judith told us about their wedding flowers and box-scheme business.  Read more about the event here.

Our second all-group meeting was in October 2017 at Falkland Centre for Stewardship in Fife. It was a larger networking event open to new and recently established small Scottish food enterprises from outside the programme and Nourish alumni from similar projects, with speakers, tours, and an evening dinner.

Our last meeting of the year was in Stirling on November 30, again only open to programme participants. We ran a workshop on pricing and marketing, had a guest speaker and visited the Stirling Food Hub to see the workings of the Food Assembly.

You can read about the first year of the programme (Making a Living from Local Food 2016) and its participants here.

You can read more about the 2014 Nourish New Farmer Programme here.


Resources for recently established local food entrepreneurs

Besides supporting participants individually, Nourish aims to build a stronger network of aspiring local sustainable food entrepreneurs in Scotland:

  • You can connect with other food producers through this Nourish Facebook group
  • We’ve put together a range of resources and materials on establishing and running a local food business in Scotland as well as a list of other support networks.

All enquiries about this programme: localfood @