Programme of events

With a full programme of exhibiting classes, seminars and demonstrations there’s something to see all day at the Festival.

NB: Below is the 2016 programme of events. The 2017 programme will be published in the summer.

Seminars and demonstrations

Once again the Festival has a broad and interesting series of seminars and demonstrations on topics relating to smallholding, all included in the ticket price.

TimeEventLocation
9:30amJudging of goats, poultry & waterfowl, sheepMain market
9:30amPasture is best
Christine Page, Pasture-Fed Livestock Association
Grassland forms a vital part of the Scottish countryside. It is an iconic symbol of our rural landscape, and for centuries has been the principal food source for cattle and sheep. Christine will talk about the benefits of adopting a pasture-fed livestock system.
Symington Suite
9:30amBee aware
Lanarkshire Beekeepers
Group members will be making a presentation on aspects of beekeeping and will also be on hand throughout the day to answer questions about bees and beekeeping.
Ring 1
9:30amPig nutrition
Jos Houdijk, SRUC, Head of Monogastric Science Research Center
Ross Mackenzie, SAC Consulting

Many smallholders keep pigs – either breeding or fattening – and many of us have waste fruit and vegetables, hay, haylage or silage. Could the two come together and in what proportions?

We’re all familiar with the general rule of 1lb feed per month of age, but on what basis should we substitute these “free” feeds? Jos Houdijk and Ross Mackenzie are here to explain all.
Ring 2
10:30amSmall-scale dairying
Christine Page, Smiling Tree Farm
We’re delighted to have Christine Page from Smiling Tree Farm in Shropshire join us to describe her small scale dairying enterprise. Christine milks a handful of Jersey cows once a day, leaving the calves with their dams. Her cattle are entirely pasture fed and she sells this special raw milk direct to the consumer.

With the conventional dairy sector in a difficult position, perhaps the future lies in local, small scale enterprises.
Symington Suite
10:30amProtecting your rural property
James Higgins, Police Scotland
Rural crime is a growing problem and Police Scotland are making a welcome return to the Festival. James Higgins will be explaining how you can protect your rural property. During the day, James will be available to chat about individual issues.
Ring 1
10:30amGrowing veg in Scotland without chemicals
Collen McCulloch, Soil Association Scotland
A look at some of the factors which can make the difference between success and failure, if you’re growing vegetables in Scotland and would like to use fewer or no chemical inputs.

Colleen will explore how natural soil fertility, crop nutrition, crop rotations, and choosing the right crops/varieties for your situation, can all improve the success of your horticultural crops, whether you’re growing outside or under cover.
Ring 2
11:00amJudging of alpacasMain market
11:30amMaking cheese
Denise Ferguson , Drumturk Cheeses
Denise bought her first goats in 1979; and there began a passion for the Pure Toggenburg.

Recently, Denise has resumed her craft of cheesemaking and established Drumturk Cheeses, in Northeast Perthshire. Using goat milk from her herd, and with plans for a milking cow, she is building a new rural small business.

We’re delighted to welcome Denise to the Festival to describe her business and the cheesemaking process – and if we’re very lucky, there might be a wee sample to taste.
Symington suite
11:30amThe Butchery Demonstration
Gordon Gibb, QMS
We know many of you have been waiting for the return of Gordon Gibb to the Festival – we missed him last year – and his wonderful demonstrations of butchery.

This event may be participatory. It will certainly be entertaining and informative.
Ring 1
11:30amExplaining permaculture
Carole Egner and Permaculture Scotland
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.
Ring 2
1:00pmNot so fishy - a smallholder's tale
Stuart Campbell
Although fish provide nutritious food that’s easily prepared and cooked, very few smallholders actually produce their own fish. Stuart Campbell is an exception. Starting from the common smallholder premise of saving money and eating good, home produced food, so Stuart traded in his piranha for trout and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you fancy producing your own fish on a small scale, get along to Stuart’s talk. It will be fascinating.
Symington Suite
1:00pmNo foot, no sheep
Caroline Robinson, SRUC
Caroline Robinson, from SRUC, will be reprising her informative Conference 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.
Ring 1
1:00pmSmall Farm Grant Scheme
Janette Sutherland and Chloe McCulloch, SAC Consulting
Aimed at small farms between 3ha and 30ha of eligible land, the Small Farm Grant Scheme provides grants to part-fund capital projects such as building construction, land improvement, fencing, and handling facilities.

A similar scheme for crofts has existed for many years and has been a popular support scheme with grants of up to 80%.

Janette Sutherland and Chloe McCulloch from SAC’s offices in Portree and Dumfries make their first appearance at the Festival to explain both schemes - what’s eligible, what’s not, the grant rates, the pros and cons of grant funding and how to apply for the best chance of success.
Ring 2
2:00pmSelling and marketing online
Dan Champion, Champion IS
Many smallholders have something to sell – produce, livestock, craft, their time and skills. If you’ve got more capacity or supply than demand, selling and marketing online can be a great way to earn extra income (or even a main income).

Dan Champion is both a smallholder and a webby person and he’ll be looking at the pros and cons of some of the popular options for marketing your enterprise online.
Symington Suite
2:00pmCider and juice from your orchard
John Hancox, Clyde Ciders
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.
Ring 1
2:00pmPig showing
Caron Stewart, Clash Saddlebacks / BPA
In lieu of the pig show this year we have a session led by Caron Stewart, looking at the ins-and-outs of showing pigs. Will include live pigs, and there may be audience participation!
Ring 2

Livestock judging

  • Sheep, Goat, Poultry & Waterfowl, and Alpaca show judging starts at 9:30am in the main market.
  • Alpaca judging starts at 11:00am in the main market.

Practical demonstrations and hands-on activities

There are a small number of hands-on sessions throughout the day in the Rural Crafts area:


Basic leatherworking – Philip & Karen Howard, Lee Valley Saddlery

10:00am – 12 noon

Based in Galashiels, Philip and Karen are highly qualified and experienced saddlers and saddle fitters, making bespoke saddles, bridles, harness and other leather goods. At the Festival, they’ll be sharing some of their knowledge of leather and leather work. Philip and Karen also run the only saddler training courses in Scotland, including a beginners leatherworking course.


Knit & natter – Louise Scollay, Knit British

12 noon – 2:00pm

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..


Weaving with willow – John Cowan, Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle

2:00pm – 4:00pm

John Cowan and other local makers in the Scottish Basketmakers’ Circle will be running taster sessions of willow weaving, where you can get hands on and make your own willow woven item to take home. Under 12s need to be accompanied by an adult. Sessions limited to 5 people and will last 20 – 30 minutes. No previous experience required Sign up at the Scottish Basketmakers’ stand in the Rural Skills area.


On-stand demonstrations

Throughout the day there will also be displays and demonstrations by:

  • Clyde Valley Orchard Group
  • Avon Valley Vintage Power
    If all things mechanical are your passion, then come along and meet Avon Valley Vintage Power. With tractors from every decade and a variety of machinery, these folk really know what they are talking about. Vintage machinery is often ideal for the smallholder, who’s working on a scale that was more common many years ago, when machinery was made to last and to be robust and simple. Find out more about vintage power – it’s not just about preserving our agricultural heritage.

Equine Area

(In the Main Market Penning Area)

For 2016 we once again delve into our equine heritage and we’re delighted to 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.

Throughout the day there will be access to equines in the main market, including:

  • Eriskay Ponies
  • Highland Ponies
  • Cleveland Bay Horses
  • Dartmoor Ponies
  • Exmoor Ponies
  • New Forest Ponies
  • Welsh Section A
  • Welsh Section B
  • Welsh Section C
  • Welsh Section D
  • Donkey Sanctuary

Read more about our equine heritage.

Pig Paradise

(In the Main Market Penning Area)

Sadly the Pig Show has had to be cancelled due to a lack of entries, however you can still see pigs at the Festival in the Main Market penning area all day, where Karen McKay and other breeders will be on hand to answer all of your pig questions.

At 2:00pm in Ring 2, Caron Stewart of Clash Saddlebacks and the BPA will be giving a talk and demonstration about showing pigs.

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