From 19-21 March, Nourish participated in the Young Crofters 2020 gathering organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) at Glencanisp Lodge on the community-owned Glencanisp Estate in Assynt. Crofting is a unique and traditional form of land tenure, which has kept big areas of land in Scotland in the hands of local communities as small landholdings. Most crofters keep sheep or cows and/or grow veg, and crofting holds great potential to strengthen local food systems in Scotland.
It was the first time young crofters from all over Scotland gathered to discuss the future of crofting, together with policy-makers, representatives of relevant organisations and experienced crofters. Iain MacKinnon from Skye, currently researching at the University of Coventry, opened the event saying:
“…in this room are people who are not only crofting elders proud of their ‘dualchas’, their cultural inheritance; but who are also, in my view, the pioneering practitioners of a humane and hopeful agriculture for our future, locally and globally – they are agro-ecologial heroes.
The future rise and spread of crofting needs to be part of a radical transformation of the way that we understand, carry out and support agriculture in this country – a new vision: making more land available for young people everywhere to use and to live from; supporting them to learn the skills they will need to make a sustainable life on the land; and helping to restore and strengthen the resilient, cohesive, caring communities that many of the elders in this room can tell us about.”
MacKinnon’s full talk can be read here.
The 48 hours of the gathering were buzzing with energy. Many attendees were keen to make the voice of (young) crofters more strongly heard on regional and national levels and to campaign for more of Scotland’s national land to be turned into crofts for aspiring crofters to steward – as part of SCF’s call for 10.000 new crofts. Write-ups of the outcomes of this multi-generational gathering will soon follow on the SCF website, including a vision for crofting in 2020 and plans for how to get there. One of the direct outcomes was the forming of a group by and for young and aspiring crofters under the Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF). A first follow–up meeting of this group will be announced through the new Facebook page.