Equines at the 2017 Scottish Smallholder Festival

Craobh & Caitlin

Once again in 2017 the Festival’s explores our equine heritage and we’re delighted to again welcome along representatives of some our wonderful native breed horses and ponies. Many folk getting into smallholding (and many existing smallholders) enjoy having an equine or two around the place – and they can do a job of work too.

For the first time the Festival will feature an Equine Parade, with examples of most of our native breeds being presented along with expert commentary from Donald McGillivray. It’s a rare opportunity to see and learn about some of the scarcest breeds of ponies and horses.

We’re delighted to welcome Homestead Horse Logging to the Festival this year. Come and meet Caitlin Erskine, her husband Tom Newton and Craobh (pronounced kroov). Craobh is a 5-year-old French draft horse and visitors will have the opportunity to see her prepared for work and using some of the specialist equipment required for horse logging.

With 11 native breeds on show the Scottish Smallholder Festival is a unique opportunity for fans of equines.

Read more on the Our Equine Heritage page.

2016 seminars and demonstrations

Ruth Dalton, Field Officer North, RBST

One the most popular aspects of the Festival and part of what sets it apart from other events is our programme of seminars and demonstrations.

We’re busy putting together the full programme for 2016 but wanted to share some of the confirmed sessions you can access at Lanark on 24th September.

Seminars

Lanarkshire Beekeepers will be making a welcome return to the Festival in 2016. Group members will be making a presentation on aspects of beekeeping as part of our seminar programme but will also be on hand throughout the day to answer questions about bees and beekeeping

Over the years, we’ve had a focus on how to plant an orchard. This year we’re moving on to what to do with your apple crop. John Hancox, from Scottish Orchards, will be explaining the techniques for processing and marketing your apples as juice and cider. John has recently launched his own range of Clyde Ciders.

And you’ve all been waiting for the return of Gordon Gibb – we missed him last year – and his wonderful demonstrations of butchery.

Caroline Robinson, from SRUC, will be reprising her informative talk on sheep foot health and foot care. The saying “No foot, no horse” can also for applied to sheep – aside from the obvious welfare issues, a lame sheep will inevitably less productive than it could be so we want to keep our sheep’s feet in tiptop condition.

Andrew Brewster from the Pasture Fed Livestock Association will be joining us to talk about the benefits of adopting a pasture-fed livestock system and the aims and objectives of PFLA.

If you asked a group of smallholders why they do it, you’d get as many answers as people in the group. But for some, and maybe a growing proportion, it’s important to make some financial return from their smallholding efforts. One way to do this is to tap into the power of the Internet with websites and social media. But what’s best to do? Dan Champion is both a smallholder and a web developer with over 20 years in the web industry, and he’ll be explaining how to market your smallholding online.

Many smallholders want to make productive use of their landholding in a sustainable way and for a growing number, permaculture is the way forward. Not sure what it is? Well, Carole Egner from Permaculture Scotland will be explaining all and giving practical tips as well.

Demonstration area

In our demonstration area in the Trade Hall, John Cowan of John Cowan Baskets will be giving folk a chance to try they hand at willow weaving. The sessions proved extremely popular last year, so do sign up at John’s stand easrly in the day.

Also in the demonstration area, you’ll be able to see members of the Lesmahagow Stick Club demonstrate their skills in producing sticks and crooks. There are classes for sticks and crooks in the Garden, Craft and Food competition, so you’ll be able to see the prize winners there and the demonstrators will be around all day to answer your questions.

Our final session in the demonstration area is supported by KnitBritish. Louise Scollay, the founder of the KnitBritish podcast series, will be on hand to help those who would like to knit but are either beginners or a wee bit rusty.

2016 Festival show entries now open

Rosettes

With shows for alpacas, goats, pigs, poultry and waterfowl, and garden, craft and food there really is an opportunity for anyone to exhibit at the 2016 Scottish Smallholder Festival to be held at Lanark Agricultural Centre on Saturday 24th September.

Novices and juniors welcome!

We want to encourage novice and younger exhibitors to show – the friendly, supportive atmosphere makes the Festival a great place to learn the ropes and gain experience showing.

If you fancy having a go but are not sure where to start check out our showing guides, aimed squarely at novices and beginners.

New this year

Every year we try to improve the Festival and listen to feedback from exhibitors and visitors. New for 2016 in our showing classes:

  • Our Goat show is now British Goat Society recognised, with winners receiving BGS rosettes, challenge certificates and certificates of merit.
  • Honey classes, in the Garden, Craft & Food competition.
  • This year’s themed section in Garden, Craft & Food is “Tea for Two”, with six classes celebrating one of our national pastimes!

RBST Scottish National Championship

Returning this year is the RBST Scottish National Championship – open to all breeds that are currently on the RBST Watchlist or have previously been on the Watchlist, this is a major new national event with significant prizes, and we’re expecting to see some of the best examples of rare breeds in Britain taking part.

Schedules and entry forms

Schedules and entry forms for all sections and classes are available to download now, see the Exhibitors pages for full details.

If you need any help at all deciding what to enter, understanding the schedules or forms, or have any other questions, please contact us, we’ll be happy to help.

For inspiration and to see the high standard set at previous Festivals check out some of last year’s winners.

Scottish Government supports Festival

Butchers lambs

Smallholdings are an important part of the fabric of rural Scotland. The Festival organisers are delighted to announce that the event has received a major boost from a new partner that will help consolidate the event as the premier show for the smaller farmer and producer in Scotland.

For the next three years, the Scottish Government will support the Festival. This support recognizes the key role that smaller producers can play in Scotland’s rural economy, and reinforces the growing view that smallholders can make a real difference as part of the fabric of the farming landscape.

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy & Connectivity, Fergus Ewing said:

 “Smallholdings are an important part of the fabric of rural Scotland. I wish the organisers an excellent event where they can help to support economic growth and jobs in the rural economy; and underpin key growth areas such as food & drink, energy and tourism.”

Rosemary Champion, from the Festival’s organizing team, reinforced this view

“Smallholders are often overlooked due to the size and nature of their enterprise, but many smallholders are playing a crucial niche role, whether it is in local produce, a focus on rare and traditional breeds of livestock, or bringing forward new innovative ideas. We are delighted that the Scottish Government has recognized this, and very pleased that they will be partnering with us over the next three years.”

The 2016 Festival will take place on Saturday 24th September at Lanark Agricultural Centre. Schedules of classes, entry forms and commercial packs are available now. The closing date for entries for livestock, poultry and waterfowl classes is Friday 2nd September.

2015 Programme of Events

Shetland Ponies

The full programme of events for the 2015 Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival has been finalised, with a wide range of topics of interest to smallholders and aspiring smallholders of all abilities and levels of experience.

Zero Waste Scotland at the Festival

The programme includes a keynote session in association with Zero Waste Scotland and the Nordic Fashion Association aimed at kick-starting discussion about re-invigorating the rearing of rare and traditional breeds of sheep for fibre production, in acknowledgement of the role sheep’s wool and other fleece products can play in the Circular Economy.

In a similar vein the Festival welcomes back Sue Blacker of The Natural Fibre Company who will be presenting a session for those who ask every year, “What to do with my fleece?”.

Practical demonstrations and hands-on sessions

New for 2015 are a series of practical demonstrations and hands-on sessions, taking place in the main trade hall throughout the day and including pruning fruit trees, Love Your Clothes, and weaving with willow.

Seminar programme highlights

The seminar programme includes several slots for those new to smallholding, with introductory sessions for both poultry and pigs expected to be popular with visitors. For those already keeping livestock, sessions on liver fluke, grassland management, livestock ID, and the direct selling of produce will be of particular interest.

There’s lots more too – family forestry, a pig butchery demonstration, polytunnels with Mark Gatter, beekeeping, rare breeds, and biosecurity.

Full details of all sessions can be found on the Programme of Events page on the Festival website.

Equines

For the first time at the Festival we are showcasing working equine breeds from Scotland and further afield. The equine area is a must-see for anyone interested in working ponies and horses.

Read more on the Our equine heritage page of the Festival website.

And more…

And there’s more – vintage machinery, apple pressing, and of course the judging of livestock, poultry and waterfowl, and garden, craft and kitchen classes, including Scotland’s only alpaca and pig shows.

The Festival takes place at Lanark Agricultural Centre on Saturday 26th September 2015, doors open at 9:00am with judging and seminars starting at 9:30am. Tickets cost £10 for adults with free entry for children under 16, and free parking.

Zero Waste Scotland at the Festival

Fleece

The organisers of the Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival are delighted to welcome Zero Waste Scotland as a major supporter of the 2015 Festival.

One of ZWS’s main policy thrusts is in promoting the circular economy in the area of textiles, clothing and fashion. Experts at ZWS are working with the fashion industry to ensure that “fashion” doesn’t mean “fad” and that the Scottish fashion and retail industry is thinking about ways of reducing the impact of clothes from the design stage right through to how we buy, use and look after them.

The environmental impact of clothing is huge; the average household owns £4,000 worth of clothing, one third of which is never worn, while an estimated £140 million worth of used clothing is sent to landfill in the UK every year.

Now, smallholders are rarely seen as fashion icons – but we do produce a considerable amount of a very environmentally friendly textile – wool. And we often produce it from our marvelous rare and traditional British breeds. So we’re working with ZWS to help bring together small-scale producers with processors and designers to produce sustainable fashion.

The Festival seminar programme features a 2 hour session for a related discussion and workshop – and we’re delighted to be welcoming contributors Tone Tobiasson and Ingun Klepp from the Nordic Fashion Association, where they are involved in similar projects in Norway, and Lynn Wilson, Key Account Manager (Textiles) at ZWS. Read more about this session »

And we’re also excited to be welcoming Shirley McLauchlan, who will be coordinating activities around Love Your Clothes at the Festival.  The Love your Clothes campaign aims to reduce the impact of unwanted clothing on the environment, and is calling on us as consumers to buy quality items of clothing, recycle old ones, and get creative to make the most of your wardrobe. So Shirley will be inspiring folk to repair, remake and reuse clothing – things that always appeal to thrifty smallholders.

So come along and join in – and be inspired!

2015 Festival show entries now open

Rosettes

With shows for cattle, goats, pigs, poultry and waterfowl, and garden, craft and food there really is an opportunity for anyone to exhibit at the 2015 Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival to be held at Lanark Agricultural Centre on Saturday 26th September.

Novices and juniors welcome!

We want to encourage novice and younger exhibitors to show – the friendly, supportive atmosphere makes the Festival a great place to learn the ropes and gain experience showing.

If you fancy having a go but are not sure where to start check out our showing guides, aimed squarely at novices and beginners.

New this year

Every year we try to improve the Festival and listen to feedback from exhibitors and visitors. New for 2015 in our showing classes:

  • Our Goat show is now British Goat Society recognised, with winners receiving BGS rosettes, challenge certificates and certificates of merit.
  • Egg content classes, in the Garden, Craft & Food competition. These classes judge the quality and freshness of an egg’s contents, rather than its external appearance.
  • A new themed section in Garden, Craft & Food, “Man’s Best Friend”, with six classes related to dogs, from cupcakes to photographs!

RBST Scottish National Championship

Returning this year is the RBST Scottish National Championship – open to all breeds that are currently on the RBST Watchlist or have previously been on the Watchlist, this is a major new national event with significant prizes, and we’re expecting to see some of the best examples of rare breeds in Britain taking part.

Schedules and entry forms

Schedules and entry forms for all sections and classes are available to download now, see the Exhibitors pages for full details.

If you need any help at all deciding what to enter, understanding the schedules or forms, or have any other questions, please contact us, we’ll be happy to help.

For inspiration and to see the high standard set at previous Festivals check out some of last year’s winners in the gallery.

2015 Commercial forms now available

Campbells Fudge

The venue is booked and the 2015 Festival is ready to go. If you want to continue to be a part of our success story, then we would love to have you along.

If you have not attended before with your business, then you don’t know what you are missing – a great show, with a really interested and highly focused audience who are perhaps looking for your product!

To join in our success story, please see the commercial section and book your package now!

Scottish Smallholder and Grower delighted to welcome a renowned author and the Laird of the Isle of Muck to the third Festival.

This year’s Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival will be enhanced by the presence of well known naturalist, journalist and author, Polly Pullar, who will talk to visitors about her books and photography, as well as introducing her latest project, “A drop in the Ocean” which tells the story of the Laird of the Isle of Muck, Lawrence MacEwen, who will also be on hand to talk through his experiences of small scale production in a very harsh but stunning environment.

Polly is a field naturalist, wildlife rehabilitator, freelance journalist, photographer and wildlife guide who has always worked in the rural environment, surrounded by animals. She is currently the wildlife writer for the Scottish Field, a monthly correspondent for Tractor and Farming Heritage Magazine, and The People’s Friend, has regular columns and features in a wide range of other magazines including Scots Magazine, and Scottish Farmer.

Her first book, “Dancing with Ospreys”, was illustrated by Keith Brockie, who also provided the illustrations for a second book, “RURAL PORTRAITS – Scotland’s Native Farm Animals, Characters & Landscapes”. She hopes that this helped raise awareness to the importance of the survival of native breeds, and those involved with them.

Polly also specialises in children and animal portraiture and her third book “Further Afield” featured her countryside photography. The two subjects then came together with the 2012 publication of “FAUNA SCOTICA – Animals and People in Scotland” co-authored with Borders writer Mary Low.

Lawrence MacEwen’s family have owned the stunning island of Muck since 1896 yet he is as far removed from the archetypal feudal laird as it is possible to be. Well-respected in farming circles and a good deal beyond, and with a benevolent hands-on approach, he is a distinctively eccentric figure often to be found in the byre where he still milks his cows, or riding along Muck’s tiny highway on a rusting bike, or vintage tractor to meet the latest ferry arrivals.

Both Polly and Lawrence will be taking part in a “Question Time” session, which will no doubt see some wonderful tales as well as insights into the highs and lows of food production, growing and sustainability on the remote island that is Muck.

Lawrence MacEwen

photo courtesy of Polly Pullar

 

Festival welcomes two special Rare Breeds!

The Scottish Smallholder and Grower Festival is proud to promote rare breeds and this year, it is welcoming two very special rare breeds to its’ show in Lanark Agricultural Centre on Saturday 27th September.

image

The Poitou donkey is a breed of donkey that has a thick matted and tangled coat, which originates from the Poitou region of France, about 300 miles south-west of Paris. By 1950 there was little demand for the Poitou, either in France or abroad. The mule could not compete with the tractor and the lorry, and mule breeding stopped providing a living for the breeder. The effect on the Poitou was catastrophic. Some breeders sold or killed their herds. There was little point in registering the birth of foals or the fact that animals had been sold. The Poitou donkey had become an endangered species. In 1977 there were only 25 animals left and concerns over the fertility of the remaining females, thankfully due to dedicated breeders the numbers have now risen. there are now 400 Poitou donkeys worldwide, 60 in the UK and with huge thanks to Alison Wiseman, the festival will be displaying the only examples of the breed in Scotland.

The Valais Blacknose is a domestic breed of sheep that hails from the Valais region of southwest Switzerland. These chaps are bred for their wool and their meat and oddly enough both genders grow horns. They are best suited to alpine pastures and thrive in the Swiss hills and valleys. The breed was first mentioned in the 1400s but was first recognised as a separate breed in 1963. You’ll be glad to hear that numbers since then are on the increase. In 1983 there were around 9940 Valais Blacknose, but by 2013 there were over 17,000. Jenni and Raymond Irvine own the only herd in Scotland and we’re very excited about seeing them in the flesh.

More information about the Festival, including livestock & craft competitions and the demonstration and seminar program can be found on the Festival website: www.ssgf.dev