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About the Project

Project objectives

  • Promote crofting to young people and encourage new entrants.
  • Safeguard crofting heritage and traditions unique to local communities.
  • Increase public knowledge and appreciation of crofting.
  • Provide high quality volunteering opportunities.
  • Encourage communities to reduce their ecological and carbon footprints.

Sustainable lifestyles and heritage
Crofters have always worked closely with the environment, using low input and low impact practices to provide food, shelter, clothing and energy for the family and the local community.

In the 21st century, crofting provides an ideal model for renewed interest in healthy and sustainable living, which respects the environment and provides local solutions to meeting basic needs.

The project was designed around the Scottish Government policy objectives linked to the three pillars of sustainability. See here for the Crofting Connections policy links.

Pupils attending a crofting connections event

Crofting and wildlife

Over the centuries, crofting has helped to shape the land to create an important mosaic of
wildlife habitats, some designated for their international importance, such as machair,
peatland, blackland, heather moor and grazed woodland in some of Scotland’s most
distinctive landscapes.

Crofting areas are home to some of Scotland’s most diverse natural heritage, with important populations of birds such as the corncrake, skylark and corn bunting in cropped grass and cereal fields, the ground-nesting birds of wet grasslands, raptors and sea birds.

Crofting Connections provides the opportunity for young people to value and respect their environmental heritage and to balance this with their need to work and live in this context.

Expressive Arts
Crofting also sustains a unique cultural heritage, influenced by Gaelic in the Western Isles and Highlands and Norse in Orkney and Shetland, reflected in a rich legacy of music, song, dance, poetry, storytelling, literature and place-names.

Crofting Connections coincides with a major government inquiry that highlights the need for crofting heritage to be kept alive within communities – and not just preserved in museums and heritage centres – for the benefit of present and future generations.

Committee of Inquiry on Crofting Final Report, 2008

A wide range of cultural activities is associated with the rich heritage of crofting communities. Schools have the opportunity to explore this heritage through:

  • Film, video and audio recordings of crofting past, present and future.
  • Painting, drawing and photography – of the stunning landscapes and the details of croft life and work.
  • Crafts – pupils are encouraged to learn the practical skills associated with crofting, such as spinning, knitting, dyeing and weaving; boatbuilding, fiddle-making and basketry.

Building on the success of Crofting Connections Phase 1, by extending its geographical coverage within the crofting counties, Crofting Connections Phase 2 worked with existing Crofting Connections schools and to offer the project to other schools in Argyll & Bute, Highland, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland, as well as the new crofting areas in Moray and the Isle of Arran.

Crofting Connections coincided with major legislative reform – Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 - to ensure crofting has a sustainable and profitable future in the 21st century in recognition of its multiple economic, social and environmental benefits.

  • Supporting communities and sustainable rural development through social and economic activity in some of Scotland’s most remote and fragile areas. 
  • Using farming and food production systems based on low carbon and high nature value principles which protect biodiversity, natural carbon stores and vital ecosystem services – soil, air and water.
  • Safeguarding heritage and culture unique to different crofting communities through the custodianship of successive generations.

Musicians at a crofting connections event

Latest News
Heritage crofting seeds for 2017 season
Posted: 04/05/2017

This year some schools have received seeds for sowing in late April/early May.

Read full article: Heritage crofting seeds for 2017 season

Crofting Connections: A gateway to the fashion industry.
Posted: 31/03/2017

The Scottish press are getting excited by the new generation of weavers being encouraged in schools in the Western Isles now and we feel Crofting Connections is playing its part in nurturing this.  With ‘taster’ S2 sessions in the Nicolson Institute and an SQA award in Harris Tweed for S5/S6 as well as our own experiences linking Crofting, Careers and Culture in Ceangal gatherings reported in this website, weaving is now opening hearts and minds in our young workforce and giving them further reasons to stay in the rural locations they grow up in.

Read full article: Crofting Connections: A gateway to the fashion industry.

Crofting Connections is a Scottish Crofting Federation and Soil Association Scotland project.

Phase 2 was launched in January 2013 and will continue until December 2015.