A report says that eating local food, produce from within a radius of 12 miles, is twice as beneficial to the environment as eating organic produce from further afield. You’d be hard pushed to find a more tightly defined, “local” area than an island. You certainly don’t need a SatNav on Arran; in many cases once you’ve gone the 12 miles, you’re coming back again. There’s a growing network of producers and purveyors of local produce on Arran. What are the factors that contribute to their success?
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Andrew and Jenny Macdonald are living a lifelong dream at Woodside Farm near Kildonan. They produce organic vegetables and rare-breed pork and keep free-range hens for their eggs. Woodside is a not-for-profit Community Supported Agriculture scheme and uses Permaculture and other sustainable methods.
Robin Gray has been famous for the leaves and vegetables he grows for many years. His fields are 20 yards from the sea between Sand Braes and King’s Cross. Not only does he supply island shops and restaurants, his produce is also to be found in Glasgow and beyond.
Claire Reeves has transformed The Bay Stores. It’s a long-established grocer’s shop that has now become a hub for the community. Claire specialises in local and organic produce and speciality foods. You’ll get a great cup of coffee and perhaps sit at a table with one of the local suppliers who’ll gladly share cooking tips on how to get the best out of your purchase. This is also the home of Arran Gin, but perhaps a story for another day?
As well as supplying local shops and restaurants Andrew and Jenny at Woodside distribute their crops through a mobile shop and a box scheme. They also include other seasonal produce. They teach young people the benefits of local produce and where their food comes from in general and promote Woodside as a Whole Health farm.
Amy Henderson runs The Drift Inn in Lamlash with her husband Euan. Many places pay mere lip service to the phrase, “Local Produce” when it appears on their menu. The Drift is different. They’re passionate about it. Local divers appear at the door with shellfish. The lamb and the beef come from fields just beyond the village. Euan shoots the venison and other game that’s on the menu. Amy and Euan have two boys who share their passion for local foods.