May 10, 2011 § Leave a Comment
The new spring menu from our food project goes live this week after a soft launch at the weekend.
[click 'n' zoom pic to view]
Other nods to the islands come in the form of peat-smoked haddock, gulls eggs, crowdie and oatcakes and if we didn’t have to purchase a half carcass of the beast we’d have had Highland beef from the Brue fold too. Hopefully we’ll have that at our Highlander’s feast, spit-roasted, at the end of the month.
Won a few awards last year so fingers crossed 2011 goes well too…
Biadh @ MacSorley’s, 42 Jamaica Street, Glasgow. 0141 248 8581
July 5, 2010 § Leave a Comment
The Scottish Crofting Federation have greeted the Crofting Reform Bill, voted through Parliament last week, as ‘a double edged sword’ but are confident that crofting will continue despite it.
The bill, finally passed at Holyrood aims to tackle the threats to crofting communities posed by land speculation, neglect and absenteesim, completing a process which began almost a decade ago.There will be stronger powers and a legal duty to tackle these issues for a new crofting commission, which will have six of its nine commissioners directly elected by registered crofters. This will replace the previously appointed Crofters Commission.
Marina Dennis, convenor of the SCF crofting reform working group, said “We are pleased that the Bill has been voted through as parts of the existing legislation are not fit for purpose. Getting the Bill through means it can always be re-visited, but it is a double-edged sword. For example, we have always pressed for a map-based crofting register which has been voted through but the methods proposed by the government to implement this – the controversial compulsory ‘trigger’ system and the associated costs to crofters could have the effect of stagnating any movement of crofts. The government claim that this Bill is designed to free up crofts but this poorly thought out procedure could actually cause exactly the opposite. However, the SCF are working on a crofting community planning programme to help crofting communities to map their assets in a practical and empowering way. This will proceed despite the government’s intentions.”
The Crofting Reform Bill was debated in the Scottish Parliament yesterday with some 230 amendments voted on. Most were carried by a few votes by the SNP government supported by the Conservatives and the Greens. The Bill itself was then voted through at Decision Time, again by a narrow margin voting ‘yes’.
Patrick Krause, the SCF’s Chief Executive, added “It was a great shame that some very practical and helpful amendments were rejected by such a small margin, but we thank those MSPs that lodged them. It is widely recognised that this new Act will not be the panacea for crofting – it attempts to make the legislation more effective but can not make crofting viable. The entire way we look at food production and land management has to fundamentally change. Crofters are producing good food, naturally, using methods that enhance the environment and are sustainable. This protects the landscape that a recent survey showed as the number one reason tourists come to Scotland. Crofters also manage Europe’s largest peat-lands which capture and lock up huge amounts of carbon. Crofters should be rewarded for the benefits and public goods they provide.”
July 15, 2009 § Leave a Comment
June 28, 2009 § 2 Comments
Bit laughable calling it a garden but heck, things are growing!
I’ve got more salad than I know what to do with. The rocket, mizuna and mustard leaves are growing thick and fast and no matter how much I cut and use, there seems to be loads more a few days later. The lettuces (3 types) are the same, just cut and they come back. Brilliant.
And the spinach, for so long looking tired and weedy has just thrived recently producing big heavy leaves as well as much smaller baby ones. I love spinach and it’s been a treat to just pick leaves and chew ‘em Popeye style.
Some of the plants have bolted / flowered but they look nice, still taste good and today I saw a few bumble bees for the first time getting their fill which was cool.
The herbs are all doing fine if not as dramatic as the veg. I’ve used the thyme on a few tarts and it’s been great just to grab handfuls of basil every second day without having to hunt the supermarkets. I think the other stuff will take a while to come on but I look forward to sage, mint, marjoram etc when they are fully grown.
Finally the beetroot and french dwarf beans have a bit to go and I think they’ll be the most satisfying. I wish I’d had a crack at tomatoes and maybe courgettes but there’s always next year. More pics on Flickr if you fancy —>
Just wish I had a proper garden.
June 1, 2009 § 6 Comments
Organoponico, Havana, Cuba. Via edweston.
For the past two decades, urban agriculture has been increasing throughout the world, in both poor and wealthy nations. Millions of urban residents in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and increasingly in North America and the UK, are growing crops and raising livestock in yards, on rooftops and balconies, along roadsides and on vacant urban land. However, Cuba is the only country in the world that has developed an extensive state-supported infrastructure to support urban food production and urban growers.
With the demise of the Soviet Bloc in 1989 all food imports were lost, resulting in the Cuban population experiencing immediate food shortages. Cuba also lost critical agricultural imports upon which its national food production system had become dependent: fertilizers, pesticides, tractors and spare parts and petroleum to provide fuel energy. Reductions in access to petroleum brought the food distribution system to a halt and severe fuel shortages meant that food could not be refrigerated or transported by trucks from where food was produced to the urban areas where the majority of the population resided.
By the end of 1992, food shortages had reached crisis proportions throughout Cuba, including in the capital city of Havana, home to 2.2 million Cubans. Like many large cities, Havana was completely dependent upon food imports brought in from the countryside and abroad.
Worsening food shortages motivated Havaneros to spontaneously began to plant food crops in the yards, patios, balconies, rooftops and vacant land sites near their homes. In some cases, neighbors got together to plants crops — beans, tomatoes, bananas, lettuce, okra, eggplant and taro. If they had the space, many began to raise small animals –chickens, rabbits, even pigs. Within two years there were gardens and farms in almost every Havana neighborhood.
By 1994 hundreds of Havana residents were involved in food production. The majority of these urban growers had little or no access to much need agricultural inputs – seeds, tools, pest controls, soil amendments. Nor did they have knowledge about the small-scale, agro-ecological techniques that urban gardening requires.
The Cuban Ministry of Agriculture responded to people’s need for information and agricultural inputs by creating an Urban Agriculture Department in Havana. The Departments’ goal was to put all of the city’s open land into cultivation and provide a wide range of extension services and resources such as agricultural specialists, short courses, seed banks, biological controls, compost, and tools.
The Department also set up a network of extension agents organized to respond to the varied needs of urban growers and assist them in all aspects of farming. The majority of extension workers are women who live in the neighborhoods in which they work; they know the residents in the neighborhoods they work in, keep track of ongoing needs and concerns, and continually encourage people to consider using available land for food production. Extension agents teach urban growers about small-scale agriculture techniques suited to urban food production and promote sustainable methods and practices — biofertilizers, composting and green manure for increasing organic matter in soil, companion planting, biological controls and permaculture methods.
The Department also set up Seed Houses (Tiendas del Agricultor), 12 in Havana alone, which sell garden inputs, seeds, ornamental and medicinal plants, tree samplings (mostly fruit-bearing) tools, books, biological control products, biofertilizers, biological pest and disease controls, packaged compost, worm humus, and other needed inputs.
Currently, about 30% of Havana’s available land is under cultivation and there are more than 30,000 people growing food on more than 8,000 farms and gardens in Havana alone. The size and structure of these urban farms and gardens varies considerably. There are small backyard and individual plot gardens cultivated privately by urban residents (huertos populares). There are larger gardens based in raised container beds by individuals and state institutions (organoponicos). There are work place gardens that supply the cafeterias of their own workplace or institution (autoconsumos). There small family-run farms (campesinos) and there are farms owned and operated by the State with varying degrees of profit sharing with workers (empresas estatales).
I believe the situation faced by Cuba is one that the UK will face in the near future. Think of it as a Food Crunch. As oil runs out and global warming kicks in, gone will be the days of picking and choosing out of season food from around the planet in your local supermarket. Add the rapidly growing markets of India and China to the mix, all vying for their share of the global larder and you can imagine how sensible it is to be able to grow your own. Michelle Obama knows what I’m talking about.
Now just trying to imagine Glasgow with communal gardens…mostly potatoes I guess, gotta meet that demand for chips…
May 31, 2009 § 6 Comments
Part three of The Croft’s Urban Garden. Bet you can’t wait. Especially now Britian’s Got Talent is over and there’s nothing to do till Big Brother…
The sun is beating down on Glasgow town, feels like the Med here. Except with pinker people and more drunks in Rangers taps (tops) bouncing around.
Four floors up tho, The Croft is building an oasis of verdant foodage. Well, there’s some tired looking seedlings being planted that may, one day, grow up to be food for my belly.
Today I planted out Spinach, Beetroot, Dwarf French green beans, Spring Onions, Roselee lettuce, Mymans lettuce, Emily lettuce, Frills mustard, Mizuna, and Rocket. Basically some nice salad leaves and a couple of simple bits of veg. They took up four collapsible containers and everything is just a little cramped but it’ll do until I get more compost and replant.
The herbs have perked up nicely and the basil and parsley are being used already.
Cracked a bottle of Argentinian Malbec Rose to help me along and there’s some Native Tongues action on the Hi-Fi-Wi-Fi.
Have a good day!
May 6, 2009 § 2 Comments
Stornoway Farmer’s Market.Via The tamed shrew
As well as bringing home the bacon with “real jobs” there are a number of avenues for additional money making that we’d like to explore through a fully functioning croft.
In this blog post I’ll be roughly outlining the current ideas with the goal of exploring newer crofting practices and resurrecting some older ones. We’d also invite you to pass comment on any shortcomings or improvements to these fiendish / hair-brained schemes!
Please treat these as notes as they are obviously sketched out and I’ll be getting around to fleshing them out into proper future posts.
Sheep: Obviously. Blackface, Cheviots and Charollais crosses. Raised for meat and selling on. Work with Heather Isle meats to market and sell further afield as well as become part of process to stock local supermarkets, school canteens, restaurants etc. Rare breeds e.g. Hebridean. Meat & wool? Prev & prev & prev.
Cattle: Small scale. Home use and selling on. Highland cows? Hardy, easier to feed. Raised for pedigree beef. Two folds already established at Brue and Kinlochroag. Prev. Other breeds?
Chickens: Meat and eggs. Traditional breeds such as Scot’s Grey. Also good layers like ISA Brown’s. Prev.
Pigs: Meat. Home use and selling on. Considering hardy, rare breed such as Tamworth. Pork, bacon, sausages, investigate curing and smoking techniques for hams. Prev.
Composting: Home use and selling on. Manure based composts, natural fertiliser. Prev.
Polytunnelling to produce:
Soft fruits, salad leaves, tomatoes, peppers, courgettes, carrots, beetroot etc etc. Home use and for selling on. Farmer’s market. Pickles, jams, chutneys etc
Fresh herbs: basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, coriander, marjoram, chives, mint etc. Home use and for selling on. Farmer’s market.
Outdoor grown potatoes: Home use and for selling on. Farmer’s market. Also Irish foody friend swears he has discovered the finest potato and has business plan for selling them internationally!
Weaving Harris Tweed: Would need to train and purchase loom. Hopefully market picks up. Paid per beam as mill and market demands.
Seaweed gathering: Have been in touch with Seaweed Hebrides who will buy as much as can be gathered. Van required and tools. Some training required but freelance work paid by weight or by bale.
Tourism: Letting a room or two for B&B during summer season.
Training or Skills holidays: At a later stage teaching lambing, crofting, peat-cutting, polytunelling…
Bees & honey: Possible?!
Sheeps cheeses: East Fresians. Possible?!
Oats & barley: Possible?!
May 4, 2009 § 1 Comment
Back to more crofting related matters!
As I’m sure you are aware, this week is Compost Awareness Week!
Composting is the purposeful biodegradation of organic matter, such as yard and food waste with the decomposition being performed by micro-organisms, mostly bacteria, but also yeasts and fungi. More simply, it is the decomposition of plant remains and other once-living materials to make an earthy, dark, crumbly substance that is excellent for adding to houseplants or enriching garden soil. It is the way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes, and is a critical step in reducing the volume of garbage needlessly sent to landfills for disposal.
Bizarrely one of the side-pleasures of the lambing season is the shovelling of the good ol’ sh1t! It’s a necessary but nice bit of physical labour that rewards you with not only a healthy and clean environment for your ewes but also provides you with a truly massive pile of poo and straw – perfect composting material. Animal dung and urine, known as manure, may be the most important agents of any compost pile. An ancient means to a fertile end, manure has been used by gardeners and farmers alike for centuries. As a successful compost ingredient, manure has few rivals. The only ironic fact about manure is that so much of it is wasted and not used in the garden to its full potential.
The beauty of composting is that it completes one of the great cycles you come across in crofting. The animals eat the crops which makes the poo which makes the compost which feeds the crops which feed the animals and so on. Sheep poo makes excellent compost and is a “hot” manure ie it requires composting before using and is somewhat dry but very rich. Manure from sheep fed hay and grain will be more potent than manure from animals that live on pasture.
- To make a simple compost bin, firstly get four pallets of roughly the same size. You might also find pallets on building sites or in skips
- Rest the four pallets next to each other forming a square and tie up with strong hessian gardening string or wire. They should stand up on their own if you have tied them tightly. If not, you can support them with wooden stakes at least 5cm x 5cm around and taller than the pallets.
- Continue to create three bins next to each other using 10 pallets in total. This os so that you can keep turning the compost from one to the other, the third houses the composted compost.