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Making a Living from Local Food

Making a Living from Local Food

Nourish New Farmer Programme 2014, Photo by Andy MacDonald


A programme offering mentoring and peer-to-peer-support to 15-20 aspiring and recently established local food entrepreneurs from across Scotland.


The programme runs from June – December 2017.

How does it work?

  • The programme is designed to offer tailored support to participants, wherever they’re at with their local food enterprise.
  • Participants are 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 8 months, participants meet 5 times with their peer group for a 3-hour long session facilitated by their mentor. In these sessions they’ll explore together particular themes and challenges in developing/running their businesses. Where possible, these sessions will be hosted in turns by the participants at their own farms/businesses, to maximise learning.
  • Participants spend 5 one-to-one hours with their personal mentor over the course of the programme (phone/skype/in person) and they can decide when.
  • Participants are invited to attend 3 whole-group events hosted at farms across Scotland: 1) the opening session on Thursday the 29th of June  2) a networking event in September which is also open to programme alumni/other local food producers 3) the closing session in December.
  • Participants 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’ll be 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.

How much?

Participants contribute £100 towards the programme costs. If they are or become a Nourish member, they’ll receive a discount of £20.

How to apply?

Applications for the 2017 programme have now closed. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, or if you want to express interest for next year’s programme. You can e-mail the programme coordinator Miesbeth Knottenbelt at localfood @ or call the N0urish office.

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


Group photo

The programme in 2016

In 2016, we ran Making a Living from Local Food for the first time, offering support to 23 aspiring and recently established local food entrepreneurs from across Scotland. It was a diverse bunch of new entrant farmers, crofters, processors, bakers, distributors and restaurant owners -with a common wish to sell food to their communities through short food chains.

On our blog, you can read the stories of some of the participants on the programme looking back on the year:

Adam Veitch, Doughies, Fort William

Roz Corbett, Tayside Growers Coop, Perthshire

Ross McKinstry, Bendifa, Aberdeenshire

Clare Jackson, The Bread Kiln, Spey Bay

Joshua Msika, Joshua’s Greens, Ellon

Iain Withers, Narrowboat Farm, Linlithgow


Participants’ feedback on the programme:

  • The support you provided mentors to allow us to access their time was great, and felt like a real privilege.
  • The programme has guided me through an invaluable learning journey.”
  • What I found as part of this programme is lovely people I want to work among; peer support is so important!
  • The programme has kept me progressing this year.”
  • What I learned as part of this programme is that there are lots of others doing exciting things and finding it tough to survive/make it work –it was nice to feel I’m not the only one struggling.”
  • What I take away from this programme: Ethos, positivity, awareness, contacts!

Other support & networks

Besides supporting participants individually in getting stuck into local food production, at Nourish we see this programme as one step in building a stronger network of aspiring, new and established local food entrepreneurs in Scotland.

  • You can connect with other food producers through this Nourish Facebook group.
  • The Future Farming Scotland programme of the Soil Association runs events exploring low-input, sustainable approaches to farming, ranging from farm walk-and-talk sessions and in-depth workshops through to longer-term field labs.
  • The Scottish Crofting Federation Young Crofters is “a place for active and aspiring crofters under 40 to network, share resources and information, and to get things done.”
  • The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) is “Scotland’s largest rural youth organisation providing a social network full of opportunities from competitions and events to training and travel.”
  • The Slow Food Youth Network Scotland is a budding network for young producers, food entrepreneurs and food activists in Scotland, part of a global network.
  • Common Good Food is a new organisation that is a practical advocate of food sovereignty in Scotland.
  • The Groundspring network, part of the Landworkers’ Alliance, is a UK-wide network for all “starter farmers, urban veg growers, beginner beekeeping collectives, CSAs, emerging dairyers, meat producers, educators…”
  • WWOOF UK is “a membership charity, teaching people about organic growing and low-impact lifestyles through hands-on experience in the UK.”

The New Farmer Programme 2014

In 2014, we ran our first New Farmer Programme, introducing 20 growers to organic growing skills, and the business and marketing skills needed to develop a thriving local food business.  The course included some very practical horticultural teaching, such as sowing trays of seeds, pruning fruit trees, and constructing a polytunnel.  It also covered basic theory on topics such as understanding soil types, what seeds need to germinate, and management of pests & diseases.  Crucially, there was also a strong emphasis both on running a business and marketing the produce.

The course consisted of 10 two-day practical training sessions each month throughout the growing season from March to December, at least 3 days per week work experience in an existing, or their own food business, and assignments between sessions, including keeping a detailed journal of their growing experiences and observations.

As well as providing valuable skills, the participants all reported the course has been invaluable for putting them in touch with a hugely inspiring and supportive network, both of existing organic growers and local food businesses, and also like minded individuals at a similar stage looking for potential enterprise partners.

Half of the 2014 New Farmers are now working in, or are in the process of setting up their own local food business. Others are putting their skills to good use in the community growing sector, to encourage these projects to grow produce as well as community.

Building on this Nourish are currently working with the University of Highlands & Islands to develop a degree programme in local food production.

All enquiries about this programme: localfood @


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