Agritourism Sector Praises Scottish Enterprise Monitor Farm Programme

The Scottish Enterprise Agritourism Monitor Farm Programme (SEAMFP) has announced the results from year one of the project. Citing the achievements as: stimulating significant progress within the sector, helping farm businesses to develop their agritourism offering throughout Scotland, and contributing to the voice of, and economic contribution from, the agritourism sector both regionally and nationally.

Launched in January 2019, the three-year programme has already developed a core network of businesses from across Scotland, with people attending the meetings from as far north as Forres in Morayshire, right down to the Scottish Borders, with some meetings also seeing individuals travel from the Isle of Mull and Islay.

Stuart & Jo McNicol, who were selected as the East Central Monitor Farmers opened DRIFT, a café built from upcycled shipping containers on a cliff on their arable farm, near North Berwick in June 2018. The café epitomises the importance of location within agritourism, overlooking a sandy beach with panoramic views over the sea to Bass rock. Food is produced fresh on site and focuses on soups, scones, cakes, teas and coffees.

Since the start of the programme, the business has continued to grow significantly grow its monthly turnover, its customer numbers and staff employed.

The McNicols say; “To be able to get together with groups of like-minded people, who all have different experiences in different sectors, even agriculture, has been incredibly supportive and great to get new ideas.”

Jo & Stuart McNicol, Drift Cafe

The West Central Monitor Farmers – Bobby and Anne Lennox and Kay and Dougie Wilson farm near Luss, overlooking Loch Lomond. The family are the tenth generation of Lennoxs; to farm at Luss, with the tenancy being in the family since 1750. Today’s agritourism enterprises consist of two self-catering cottages, a farm tour business and new handmade glamping barns, designed and built by Dougie – due to open this summer.

Bobby commented on the family’s experience of the programme as phenomenal. “It’s taken us out of our comfort zone, and it’s pushed us a lot harder than we would ever have gone on our own.”

Kay continues; “We’ve made some really big changes to our business and part of this has been developing our new brand, ‘Lennox of Lomond’, to help set us up for the future. The changes we have made are the building blocks that will help us grow our business in the coming year. Another achievement for us this year has been putting in place a succession plan. Dougie and I became partners in the farm business and my name is now on the farm lease.”

The Lennox Family, Shantron & Shemore Farms

As well as the support the monitor farmers receive, a core group of businesses who have attended all or most of the first year of the programme, have formed a community group.  In addition to attending the regular meetings, this group will meet separately to work on benchmarking with the support of programme facilitator Caroline Millar to help all members drive growth and increase profits.

Caroline adds; “Some members of the community group originally came along to some of the first meetings with just an idea, or a brief plan for developing an agritourism business. In just over 12 months the majority have either established a successful agritourism business or have progressed plans to take their business ideas to the next level.”

Project facilitator Caroline Millar

Julian Pace, Head of Rural at Scottish Enterprise concludes; “This programme focuses on exchanging knowledge and helping agritourism businesses to develop their skills and confidence through providing expert and peer group support. The response to the programme has been fantastic.”

If you are interested in getting involved with the programme contact programme facilitator Caroline Millar, [email protected].

Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency. We’re committed to growing the Scottish economy for the benefit of all, helping create more quality jobs and a brighter future for every region.

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