FOR THE first time, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust used the Royal Highland Show to present awards recognising excellence in sustainable food and farming.
The inaugural RBST Scotland Awards were presented to winners from across Scotland by Minister for Environment and Land Reform, Mairi McAllan, at a ceremony on the Thursday of the show.
Alice Lennox of Doonies Farm, winner of Rare Breeds Survival Trust Champion of the Year, said: “Our rare and native breeds represent the historical tapestry of livestock farming within the UK. However they also play an imperative role in its present and future too, providing numerous benefits within our agricultural landscape. I am incredibly humbled to be awarded the RBST Champion of the Year. But I would also like to share this award with all of the dedicated volunteers and breeders, past and present, whose passion and enthusiasm for rare and native breeds has been the driving force to their continual survival.”
Ronnie Eunson, of Uradale Farm, Shetland, winner of Sustainable Farm of the Year, said: “In using rare and native breeds we are using thousands of years of evolutionary development to provide future answers for our world’s predicaments. It is crucial that those of us farming with rare and native breeds engage with customers near and far about why these breeds matter for the environment, for food production and for our communities. Our commitment to Shetland’s native breeds and this truly sustainable production system is total, and winning this award is a welcome recognition.”
Jane Cooper of the Orkney Boreray Community, winner of Sustainable Food Producer of the Year, said: “We entered the awards because environmental sustainability is absolutely at the heart of our Orkney Boreray Community and the way we produce food and use as many other by products as possible. It is wonderful to see recognised in this way the role that low input native and rare breeds can have in truly sustainable food production. We feel very honoured that our work and Community ethos has been recognised by the judging panel.”
Jock Gibson of Macbeth Butchers, winner of Sustainable Produce Retail Outlet of the Year, said: “We were encouraged by a few folk to enter and delighted to win our category. We have always tried to make an effort to support and promote rare and minority breeds so to win Sustainable Produce Retail Outlet of the Year is a fantastic recognition of this.”
There were 10 categories in all, judged by a panel including RBST Chairman and native breed farmer John Atkinson; Creator of The Scottish Food Guide Wendy Barrie; Scotland Food and Drink’s Head of Regional Food Fiona Richmond; Head of Food & Enterprise at SAC Consulting Ceri Ritchie; agricultural journalist Ewan Pate; Rosemary Champion of The Accidental Smallholder; and Emma Chalmers of Galbraith.
Ms McAllan said: “I’d like to extend my congratulations to all of the winners of the inaugural RBST Scotland Food & Farming Sustainability Awards. I wish them every success in growing their sustainable businesses.
“We are committed to supporting farmers, small holders and crofters to produce more of our food, more sustainably, which will ultimately help make our food systems more resilient. This will transform how we will support farming and food production in Scotland to become a global leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
“The genetic diversity of our livestock are an important part of Scottish agriculture. Rare breeds are the result of hundreds of years of selective breeding developed to meet a range of cultural needs and a variety of environmental niches.”
RBST vice president Scotland, Martin Beard, said: “RBST Scotland is delighted to celebrate the innovative businesses which are leading the resurgence of sustainable food and farming in Scotland. The standard of entries was exceptionally high and it has been a pleasure to share the stories of such fantastic work taking place across Scotland to put environmental sustainability at the heart of food and farming. I thank the judging panel and the awards sponsors for helping make these awards such a success.”
Sustainable Farm of the Year (sponsored by Galbraith) – Uradale Farm: an organic farming-based business in Shetland, keeping only the native Shetland breeds of cattle and sheep. Uradale has engaged in successful environmental management for biodiversity for over 25 years, now enhanced with carbon sequestering peatland work;
Sustainable Small Farm of the Year (sponsored by The Scottish Smallholder Festival) – Tullich Highland Rare Breed Pigs: Breeding and raising rare breed native pigs including Oxford Sandy and Black, Large Black and British Lop. A small shop on the croft in Invergordon sells their own meat products, produced for them by local butchers;
Sustainable Food Producer of the Year (sponsored by Scotland Food & Drink) – Jane Cooper and the Orkney Boreray Community: Jane Cooper has set out to secure the sustainable future of Orkney Boreray sheep by making their mutton a niche commercial product and bringing together a community of like-minded Orkney farmers and crofters;
Sustainable Butcher or Wholesaler of the Year – Macduff 1890: This meat wholesaler is passionate about supporting the economic, social and environment benefits of our native breeds. Based at Wishaw, Macduff 1890 sources from a range of animals on the RBST Watchlist from farms across Scotland;
Farmers’ Market Stall Holder of the Year – Slipperfield Croft: This small hill farm near West Linton has grown a sustainable operation playing to the strengths of native breeds. The family helps organise the local market, seeing it grow to one of the largest in the Borders. For Slipperfield Croft their market stall is as much about education and raising awareness as about selling high quality, environmentally sustainable produce;
Sustainable Produce Retail Outlet of the Year (sponsored by SAC Consulting) – Macbeths: A family run business on Tolbooth Street in Forres, Moray providing high quality products throughout the UK, including beef provided from their own farm where they rear traditional Scottish native breeds;
Sustainable Chef of the Year (sponsored by Scottish Food Guide) – jointly to Paul Newman, Errichel and Fred Berkmiller, L’Escargot Bleu:
- Chef Patron Paul Newman leads Errichel & Thyme, a farm to fork business based on his family farm in Aberfeldy. He works to promote native, heritage produce and sources good, clean, fair food as locally as possible;
- Chef Patron Fred Berkmiller of Edinburgh’s L’Escargot Bleu has been at the vanguard of exploring, supporting and working with the best Scottish terroir for over 13 years. His ‘au naturel’ ethos focuses on provenance, rare breeds and nose-to-tail eating;
Sustainable Farming Communicator of the Year (sponsored by Ledingham Chalmers) – Nikki Yoxall: A smallholder in Aberdeenshire, Nikki uses social media to show how careful management can help feed the soil biology, playing a key role in creating healthy ecosystems. Nikki represented the regenerative farming community at COP 26 in the Blue Zone and at fringe events;
Native Breed Society of the Year (sponsored by Sarah’s Rosettes) – The Eriskay Pony Society: Protecting and promoting Scotland’s Ancient Hebridean Ponies, with an enthusiastic and pro-active council. SPARKS sheets are produced for every pony to limit the downward spiral of inbreeding, and an exciting genome assessment project is underway;
Rare Breeds Survival Trust Champion of the Year (sponsored by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust) – Alice Lennox: Alice helps her father Graham run Doonies Rare Breed Farm, Aberdeen, an RBST-approved Farm Park which is home to a wide range of rare and native breeds. Alice hosts popular farm tours on Facebook and YouTube, introducing a huge number of viewers to rare breeds and the important role they can play;
Chair of Judges’ Special Commendation – Wark Farm: A 200-acre mixed farm on the eastern edge of the Cairngorms, registered organic since 2006. With pedigree Belted Galloway cattle and Hebridean sheep, the farm produces high quality meat for sale locally and wool from the sheep flock is used to make a range of organic textiles.