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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 small peer group and matched with a mentor. In 2018, our mentors were 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 or so, you’ll meet up several 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, your mentor and/or other participants in your peer group, at their own farms/businesses, to maximise learning.
  • You’ll have one-to-one hours with your mentor over the course of the programme (by phone, skype or in person) and you can decide with your mentor when this suits you best.
  • You’ll be invited to participate in whole-group events which are hosted in locations across Scotland. These events are full days, like mini-conferences, themed, and offer a busy programme which typically  includes at least one workshop, guest speakers/case studies of local food producers, a potluck lunch sharing your and fellow participants’ local produce, and a site visit/tour.  The first whole-group meeting last year was in Perthshire in March. The second one was a wider networking event in June in Fife. This event was open to alumni and other local food producers. The last event was in early November in Stirling, on the theme ‘pricing and marketing’
  • You’ll have access to various resources and materials online and there is a sector wide Facebook group which connects you with other local food producers.

The programme is flexible and self-led: it’s up to you, 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, though we can signpost you to external resources and training opportunities that you might welcome.

In previous years it has become clear that the peer site visits and all-group events are particularly valued. Note that these will require you to set aside a certain amount of travelling and time if you are going to benefit from them to maximum effect. It follows therefore that your 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: As partners in the same application, you will 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 will do our best to look 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 instalments. 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 2016-2018 was kindly funded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund.

When and how to apply?

We have come to the end of our third and final year of Making a Living from Local Food 2016-18 and we are currently applying for funding to continue a similar project in 2019. We hope to announce a 2019 programme in late February, when applications for  participation in the 2019 programme will open (pending success with our funding applications). 

Meantime, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, or if you want to express interest in participating in this programme or similar support of this type. You can e-mail the programme coordinator Miesbeth Knottenbelt at localfood @ or call the Nourish Office.

Making a Living from Local Food

Case Studies

Read our case studies to find out how participants benefited from this programme. Find out how Hazel and Kenneth got their cafe/farm shop really up and running in Shetland in 2018, how Anne and Rod developed their salad business in Ayrshire in 2017, and how Bas and Emma consolidated their veg production in 2016 in Roseisle, near Elgin.



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).

Person working in a potato field

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 @