One of the highlights of Crofting Connections this year has been widening our work in secondary schools, starting with a gathering in Assynt in October 2014, with secondary pupils, teachers and crofters, supported by Crofting Connections and the Scottish Crofting Federation. Nearly a third of these pupils live on working crofts, some in community-owned crofting estates. Over half said they would like to work in their communities after finishing their studies.
Pupils discussed the future of crofting and their ideas for crofters producing food for their local communities. They visited Redbraes Croft at Achmelvich, part of the Assynt Crofters’ Trust, where they spoke to crofters Anna and Ray MacKay about the range of food produced on the croft, including vegetables, lamb and dairy products from sheep’s milk and looked at three different soil types on the croft with geologists Pete Harrison and Laura Stewart form the North West Highland Geopark.
The main outcome of this event was the production of two short films – Crofting: We Are the Future and Food from the Croft, the latter forming part of Crofting Connections’ response to the Scottish Government’s consultation Becoming a Good Food Nation.
In November we were offered several opportunities to invite pupils to answer questions at the screening of the films, helping them to realise that their voices are important in our democratic structures and to gain confidence in representing their the issues which are important to their generation.
Kira Holroyd and Caitlin Muir from Mallaig High attended the first Scottish Rural Parliament in Oban, where we had the first screening of Crofting: We Are the Future. It was exciting and inspiring for them to be part of the historic first SRP, where meeting Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead helped them to realize its significance. They will be able to use this experience to inform their Modern Studies course.
Hannah Morrison very confidently answered questions after the screening of Crofting: We Are the Future at this year’s Croft Assessors’ Conference in Inverness. It was a great opportunity for delegates from all over the crofting counties to hear such an accomplished young ambassador for crofters of the future.
Callum Armes-Harris, Craig MacKay and Fraser MacDonald from Kinlochbervie High came to the Cross Party Group on Crofting in November at Holyrood for the third screening of Crofting: We Are the Future . They were delighted when they had the opportunity to meet the First Minister, who expressed an interest in seeing the films. They spoke about their dreams and hopes for the future in their own communities and reminded us all that young people need to have the opportunity to speak for themselves to those of us who are working for the future of crofting.