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NW Sutherland Food Link Set Up To Make Local Food More Accessible

7th December 2005

Crofters in North West Sutherland are setting up a new system to make fresh and locally grown food more widely available in their area.

The Highlands and Islands Local Food Network (HILFN) - set up by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) - and 16 growers in North West Sutherland have set up the North West Sutherland Food Link. The new producer-led community business will link small-scale horticultural growers from Lochinver to Durness and round to Melvich to consumers looking for fresh local food.

The business will be supplying a seasonal vegetable box scheme to households, hotels and bed and breakfasts along 100 miles of rugged coastline and along the Straths from May to October each year. It is hoped that in the future the business will also make local beef, lamb, shell-fish, and other produce available in the North West of Sutherland.

"We are going to be running a sustainable local produce co-operative, producing and marketing our own locally grown produce," said Katy Lee, one of the crofters supplying vegetables near Durness. "However we expect a high demand for the fresh produce, so consumers in the area will need to book early to ensure they get a share of the local harvest."

Gemma Petrie, a local food consumer in the area, is looking forward to the new service. She said: "It's healthier. It's not covered in pesticides, and it's not shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away. I can't wait to sign-up for a box of locally produced vegetables."

With funding from Communities Scotland Future Builders Fund to help get the business going, the group wants to make local food available and create employment on crofts in the area. The group is currently recruiting a manager and buying a van and the first deliveries will be made next season. Staff, office space and supplies will all be sourced locally.

North West Sutherland Food Link would like to hear from other crofters and food producers in the area who may want to get involved, and will be taking bookings from consumers to join the box scheme in 2006.

For information contact Meg Telfer, North Coast Community Enterprise Ltd on telephone 01641 521445.

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