Now that the official period of notice comes to a close. We hope to be in receipt of our lease in the next few weeks!
A month ago, we were contacted by email from KCFC’s croft letting agent requesting our planting plan. This is to be reviewed for board approval and submitted to Forestry Scotland; a prerequisite to having sight of our lease which has been drawn up by a crofting lawyer in 2022. We are really pleased at this invitation, & all being well; will be the long awaited final stage in the signing of our tenancy.
In the meantime.
Winter evenings were spent preparing timbers in a small shed, ready for assembling a temporary structure using the starplate building system; which was approved for erection by the board after consultation with planning in March. This has allowed us to progress our native tree nursery on-site while we remained tenants-in-waiting.
Our plan was to assemble a bird, vole, mouse and deer-proof modular and free standing exclosure for growing root-trained trees from seeds of local provenance which we gathered in Autumn 2022. Raised pallets nest neatly within the inner ring of the geometric structure, providing a footprint for approximately 5000 saplings.
Special thanks to Michael King for his faith putting up the roof with me & his expertise with the netting, Bute Community Sawmill for the wood; and fellow crofter-in-waiting Iain Waugh for allowing a prototype in his garden and his ongoing pragmatic and common sense support.
Working Party – The first of many.
In Spring, having heard about our ambitions via a mutual friend, a polite and skilled squad from Glasgow came, bringing energy, expertise and their tents; which emerged into an impromptu working party. We cut reeds along the ditches in preparation for temporary deer fences and utilised them for mulching the runrig beds. Having had our potatoes browsed by deer last year (!) save for planting vetch as a green manure/cover crop; we have left fallow until eventual protection from deer. It seemed inappropriate to fence this year and we have been very keen not to overreach ourselves.
WE have also sown cabbages in buckets! We are keen to realise our family ambitions for sauerkraut this winter!
Research and Development.
In this continued holding pattern, we have also spent time researching best practice with the PROSILVA institute; and have sought consultancy advice from Holzner permaculture solutions. We have also sought local expertise in establishing some geolocatable maps in advance of the crofting commission releasing the shapefiles of the croft to us.
Laura is also submitting an application to the Jude Dunn bursary fund to support the creation of small ponds, terraces and a biochar retort and associated infrastructure to further our soil regeneration plans. As i write, we are busying ourselves establishing quotes from local contractors so support her application.
A Forward and Positive Direction.
A month ago, we were contacted by email from KCFC’s croft letting agent requesting our planting plan. This is to be reviewed for board approval and submitted to Forestry Scotland; a prerequisite to having sight of our lease which has been drawn up by a crofting lawyer in 2022. We are really pleased that this, all being well; will be the long awaited final stage in the signing of our tenancy.
Issue 67, the summer edition of the Reforesting Scotland journal spoke to the current state of play for woodland crofting in Scotland, citing KCFC as the largest woodland croft holding in Scotland. The burden of responsibility for woodland crofts are all on community land via asset transfer schemes just now; but may yet change. In relation to Scottish Government and FLS offering crofts directly on their land, Jamie McIntyre of the Woodland Croft Partnership writes:
‘watch this space’Issue 67 Reforesting Scotland, p63 ‘Woodland crofts: Where are we now?’
Big Do on the cairds?
For now, perhaps we may support the movement by a high profile launch/celebration when signing the new leases. We, as a community group of crofters, would do well to invite an MSP or two to celebrate with us at a public event; as well as other esteemed guests to showcase this piece of the Land Reform jigsaw; namely affordable access to land with regeneration responsibilities. KCFC have some excellent historic webpages and blogs on the subject and good documentation of their woodland crofting timeline, and we hope to see these added to the new website thats under development alongside all their many spheres of activity; to support other aspirant woodland croft initiatives across the country.
As future tenants, we hope our personal burden, that of providing 80% (mature) broadleaf cover from a denuded ex-sitka clearfell will bear dividends for future generations both in Tighnabruaich and helps seeds success for the wider nation in which we are nested. You can view our planting plan here once approved.
In other news, following the success of a community fund bid, I have accepted a full time position at Glenan Wood as their Community Forest Ranger. You can follow progress via the facebook page here.