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?

We are currently applying for funding to run this programme in 2019. The programme we ran in 2016-2018 is designed to offer tailored support, wherever you’re at with your local food enterprise as follows:

  • You’ll be part of a small peer group and matched with a mentor.
  • Over the course of the 9 months or so, you’ll meet up several times with your peer group for meetings organised between you, your peers and your mentor. Together you can explore particular themes and challenges in developing and running your businesses. The idea is that you take turns hosting these meetings at your own farms/businesses, to maximise learning, wherever  this is felt to be practical and productive.
  • You’ll have one-to-one hours with your mentor over the course of the programme (by phone, Skype, in person, whichever is easiest) and you can decide between you when this suits you best.
  • You’ll be invited to participate in whole-group networking events which are hosted in locations across Scotland. These events are full days, like mini-conferences, themed, and offer a busy programme and typically  include a workshop, guest speakers/case studies of local food producers, a potluck lunch sharing your and others’ local produce, and a site visit/tour.  These events can be open to alumni and other local food producers to increase the chance to network with a range of people in this sector. 
  • There are also some resources online and there is a busy wide-reaching  Facebook group Making a Living from Local Food Scotland, that connects you with other local small food producers.

The programme is flexible and self-led: it’s up to you 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 this kind of support and especially the peer site visits and networking 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 these 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.

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.

When and how to apply?

We have come to the end of our third year of Making a Living from Local Food 2016-18 and we are currently applying for funding to continue similar support in 2019 and beyond.

Updates will be emailed directly to all who have been in touch with us to express an interest in this programme this year and posted on our Making a Living from Local Food -Scotland Facebook page.

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

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.

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.

It’s possible to pay in instalments. Note that you will also have to cover your own travel to group events and peer group meetings. 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. 


Making a Living from Local Food 2016-2018

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 @