Crofting is a unique social system which stems from the Highland Clearances of the nineteenth century, and has played a crucial role in shaping the landscape, natural environment, cultural heritage and social economy of all the crofting counties. In the project area there are three main areas under crofting tenure: the Coigach Peninsula, the Assynt Coast from Lochinver north to Stoer and then east to Kylesku, and the townships of Elphin and Knockan on the eastern edge of the project area.

Crofting is the primary form of small scale land tenure in the project area and a key part of the social and economic fabric. In addition crofting land management can have considerable environmental benefits, and perhaps most importantly provides a vital link between the local community and the land.

The aims of the project are to:

  • Provide support and practical assistance to crofters throughout the local area to allow them to realise their ambitions, make the most of the land under their custody and to encourage new entrants.
  • Employ a Sustainable Crofting & Rural Projects Coordinator, Anne Campbell, aacampbell@coigach-assynt.org who oversees and manages the project.

The crofting project has been running for over two years now, and during that time a huge amount has been achieved. Since the project started in 2018 two demonstration crofts have been set up, crofts have been mapped and prepared for registration, and 17 training workshops have taken place.  A pilot scheme to improve grass and pasture is also being implemented in Achiltibuie, and there are plans for further pilot schemes in Assynt.

Although the Covid 19 crisis has had an impact on plans this year, it hasn’t stopped some of the training going ahead, with innovative ideas for delivery including Zoom-based sheepdog handler training, and a series of short videos showing some of the classic cultivation techniques needed in crofting (see below). Work on the demonstration crofts went ahead – the farming calendar stops for no-one. So the land was prepared, seeds were sown, fences built, and advice on best management of the land for wildlife as well as crops sought and given.

Project funding ends in September 2021, so for the final year the project aims to look at what the future holds for crofting in this area. Anne plans to start by gathering as much information on the state of crofting in the CALL area as possible. She will be distributing a questionnaire shortly and would welcome as many people as possible to complete and return it. The questionnaire is available to download here. CALLP Crofting Questionnaire 1, or you can request a printed copy by contacting Anne at aacampbell@coigach-assynt.org. All information will be treated as highly confidential and the data gathered to inform the report will not be associated with any individual.

As part of the project these videos have been filmed and edited for us by Will Irvine, showing some of the classic crofting activities. We hope you enjoy them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Demonstration crofts in Coigach & Assynt

We will be looking for enthusiastic and forward-looking crofters to take up the demonstration croft opportunity. The croft selection will be done in a competitive and transparent way. Croft development