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Working Together for Food and Planet
Well, it seems we’ve been rather busy over the past few months. No wonder time has been passing by so quickly. The Covid restrictions have been truly hard for many of us and will continue to create difficulties for some time. But, hopefully, we’re over this cold spring and we can look forward to spending more time outdoors, in our gardens, and enjoying our seas and hills. Who knows, perhaps we can look forward to restarting our Carbon Cafes! Read on to find out what’s been going on.

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Recent Events, Next Stages

 

Our Polytunnels, The Good, The Bad and The… Difficult event was well attended and we now have a very active Polytunnel “Tech” group on Facebook. This is about sharing information topics such as: choice of manufacturer, build options like foundations and base options, skin options, layout, watering etc. We’re also forming a “build squad” so that we can all help with building each other’s tunnels to get them up more quickly.

We thoroughly enjoyed our talk on the 12th May with Ludwig Leòdhas Appeltans. The event was well oversubscribed and we had to extend ticket numbers a few times. We heard about Ludwig's life journey, which has been steeped in permaculture principles: living with the land and nature; seeking solutions that benefit all. We found out that the knowledge and understanding of permaculture is quite varied and that there are many levels that can be considered when applying permaculture principles to our gardens, crofts and lives. This ranges from the truly immersive Permaculture Lifestyle to simply considering sustainable principles in growing food. We’ll be looking at some aspects in more detail soon. For instance, you can read more here on how to deal with slugs using permaculture principles.

 

Highland Food Updates

The Highland Good Food Partnership


You may remember this as The Highland Good Food Conversation: an excellent initiative that pulled together about one hundred people keen to improve the Highland food situation. Several subgroups were created from this including: A Bigging Up Small Farms (Food Producers) Network; Highland Greenhouses; Community Growing; and Circular Economy and Waste. The partnership will soon be a charity and we now have four focus groups to share information and continue with the exciting progress achieved thus far. These are Education and Training, Health and Well-being, Local Food Economy, and Community Resilience. Please do get in touch at hello@highlandgoodfood.co.uk if you would like to join in with any of the groups.
 

Food Producers Network on Slack


This was one of the quickly implemented, successful outcomes of the HGFC. It's a group set up primarily for commercial growers and producers, but also to those interested in selling surplus produce to local markets and people on a commercial basis. The group members share ideas and provide help and encouragement to other people looking to setup in production. A wide range of topics is discussed ranging from vegetable production, polytunnels, associated equipment and harvesting tools through to dairy, grains, livestock and meat processing. You can join the Slack group here (highlandgrowers.slack.com)
 

Sutherland Community Partnership, Food Group


The members of this group, and others of course, have done an amazing job keeping us all safe and fed through Covid. It’s really saddening and shocking to continue hearing updates on the number of vulnerable families in our communities that need support. Covid has brought tragedy to many lives and the emotional, physical and financial issues will continue for some time. We are indeed blessed by having such caring communities and having the capacity to move forward to create increased resilience. We are looking forward to being part of the ongoing discussions with various groups. Building community food projects has huge potential from improved physical and emotional health, greater social interaction, physical exercise and simply being out and about. 
 

Community Food Growing

It doesn’t stop there, however. We have new food groups, new larders, food courses and talks, increased school growing and of course, many more of us have turned to growing more in our own gardens. Sales of polytunnels have rocketed! We are involved in many of these groups and initiatives and do our best to keep the information flowing and reduce duplication. We’ll soon here too of the Highlands Adapts and Growing Our Future work with the Highland Council. Please keep an eye out here - planetsutherland.com/community-food/ - or contact us for more information.

What we're working on

Working Together

There are more and more environmental and climate groups being formed each month and each of us has similar needs regarding education and action. In an effort to avoid overlap and duplication and to improve our overall effectiveness, we have formed and “Event Network”. This group is currently sharing information about upcoming events and aims to work together to run joint events. We may well move on to sharing other information such as discussion forums etc. The working title for the group is Future Communities Highlands and Islands. Please get in touch if you run environmental or climate events or want to know more. Our members thus far are: Transition Black Isle, Assynt Development Trust, Knoydart Climate Conversations, Thurso Development Trust, Skye Climate Action and of course, Planet Sutherland.

Waste & The Circular Economy

It’s been mentioned in the past, but we are in discussion with various people regarding new talks and events to help us all reduce the waste we produce and benefit from building our community economies. Please do get in touch if you’d like to help out in this area, or want to be kept informed about the upcoming talks.

Our New Website

You may or may not have noticed that our web site has had a major overhaul. Hopefully information is more easily found. We have four main sections: Working Together, Food & Climate Change, Reduce-Reuse-Recycle, and Nature. We also have a Resource Library and our film viewing and discussions continue on our forum.

Facebook Chat

Love it or Loathe it, social media truly helps to grow climate conversations in so many different ways. For instance, the recent chatter on our Planet Sutherland Facebook Group has included: growing Luffa, doll head planters, dandelions, horse dung fire bricks, clean energy, sailing, permaculture, polytunnels, biscuit recipes, plastic recycling and home brew! It's a fun and friendly group to share questions, issues and ideas. All Welcome.

News From Our Friends

Our friends over at Assynt Development Trust have been working hard to develop their climate and environmental action plans. For instance, on Saturday 15th May, beach cleaning happened in Stoer, Clachtoll, Inverkirkaig, Lochinver and just beyond the White Shore. A beautiful sunshiny day made the hard work easier but emphasised the paradox of natural stunning spots turning out piles of destructive waste. Read more here about their progress - Million Mile Beach Clean on Facebook. And you can read the article on the recent work with the new coastal ranger at Plastic @ Bay in Durness here and find out about "Ghost Gear".

For those in the North & West, an excellent new collaborative has been developed - NorthWest2045.  This project has been established by a diverse group of local organisations with a common desire to see a future where our communities thrive economically, socially, and environmentally. Three workshops have been organised to develop the community discussions on building the collective and long term vision of the areas future. The workshops are on 1st -3rd June for the different areas. If you live in the area, please sign up here.


SCCAN - If you haven’t yet heard of SCCAN (Scottish Communities Climate Action Network) then please do look them up - individuals and groups are welcome to join. There’s an ever growing directory of members to help you find a climate group near you and they run many very interesting events from Doughnut Economics to Co-Creating local plans and informal networking events.

LDLC - Challenge your brain, sooth your mind, help the planet with the Lairg & District Learning Centre Courses.

Lairg Market - We’re looking forward to the restart of the Lairg Community Market on 21st June.

Sky Climate Action is organising a Climate Feis event running for the whole of August. More info here - www.climatefeis.org

Thurso Grows - did you know that there are many videos on youtube covering fermenting food to garden design. They're all here.

Transition Black Isle - check out the latest news from our Black Isle friends here.

If you'd like a mention here with your eco projects, please just let us know.
What Can I Do Now?

Have fun with Crazee, Lazee, Eazee ideas to reduce your Carbon Footprint

  • join the merry band of sea swimmers and paddle boarders in Brora & Dornoch
  • baking our own biscuits helps to reduce plastic & let’s face it, home made is much more tasty and healthier (well - we need a little sugary happiness in our lives)
  • home made wine and beer reduces bottle, metal and plastic
  • getting out into the garden and growing our own food helps to reduce energy use and reduces plastic packaging
  • get refills from the Golspie Larder, Dornoch Stores and The Rusty Coo in Lairg - and enjoy a wee bit of lovely shopping too
  • clear out your small electricals and take them to the ILM Pink Bins in Bonar and Golspie.
  • join our discussion groups to share your Crazee / Lazee / Eazee  ideas 
Thanks for getting to the end!
Join us here to #buildbackbetter. We're a welcoming, collaborative group and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas for local projects.
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