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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Many restaurants pay mere lip service to the phrase, “Local Produce” when it appears on their menu. Some are passionate about it. Shellfish from local divers who appear at the door, lamb and the beef that come from fields you can see from the road, game shot by the owner and vegetables grown by “driven hippies” can all feature on a truly local menu. When it comes from the heart a young family grows to share the passion for local foods.
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.
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. 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.
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?