Here we publish articles and personal stories from the world of SOPA.
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17th December 2015
Uradale Organic Farm in Shetland
By Ronnie Eunson, SOPA farmer
Having started down the rocky Organic path in 2000 it has been a challenging experience. Shetland has less than 100 ‘growing days’ a year with Aberdeenshire enjoying at least double this figure. I wish someone had told me this on day one.
This fact notwithstanding Uradale in 2015 has made some progress. We halved our sheep numbers and increased our cattle. All our stock is native Shetland – the most efficient and productive for us.
We sell most of our lamb in London with, only after 15 years, a growing recognition in Shetland itself. Scoop Wholefoods is an institution and has become our link with local customers. We supply lamb and beef all year round and were very happy with the compliments paid to our produce at the recent Shetland Food Fair.
My son, Jakob, trained as a butcher and now works with me. He is his own man, but so far seems to see the sense in following the Organic path. At least I can tell him all the things I got wrong.
We put a lot of effort into scientific nutritional analyses of our meats. You have to work that bit harder if you sell produce which no consumers recognise and few butchers sell. By proving that the meats are healthier than conventional offerings it helps build trust in the produce. Organic only works when consumers believe in it and trust it.
Shetland has probably the greatest catalogue of native domesticated farmstock and crops. Sadly, some are on the brink of extinction. We do what we can to tell visitors about them all. These crops all fit with Organic production. Our forefathers, who never knew about modern chemicals and fertilisers, relied on them.
Recently we have been spinning all our wool along with others from Shetland Organics. We can now offer completely authentic Shetland Wool from native Shetland sheep from Shetland. Is this a good idea? Let’s see. Maybe I will need another 15 years!
You can contact Ronnie via his website here
11th November 2015
The Egg Shed @ Rotmell Farm
Organic Free Range Eggs from Alexander Brewster
The Egg Shed is situated just 4 miles north of the beautiful town of Dunkeld in the Tay Valley in Perthshire.
We have around 4000 Organic Lohmann Brown laying hens who live in 2 Hen houses overlooking, what we think, is one of the best views in Scotland.
The girls roam freely during the day over hectares of land, often joined by our sheep and cattle. They love the company and often get close to the livestock. The livestock don’t seem to mind either as you can see from the photos.
At night they are safely shut up inside their sheds away from prowlers.
The next generation of Brewsters, young Katherine, often comes and lends a hand when she is not at school.
The eggs are collected every day and taken to our egg store. The bulk of these eggs are then collected by Noble Foods and are packed by them. Ultimately they are boxed and distributed to Marks and Spencer’s stores around the United Kingdom.
There are always a few egg casualties so we sell these for chocolate puddings and mayonnaise.
We also have a lively local market which we delight in supplying. Many of the local hotels, cafes, delis and bed and breakfasts really value fresh, organic eggs delivered to their door. Dalshian Guest House, East Haugh House Hotel and Café Calluna and many more of our customers transform our eggs into delicious cakes and breakfasts.
The award winning MacDonald’s Butchers in Pitlochry sell our eggs in their 2 shops (Pitlochry and Aberfeldy) and they have a great following. You have to be especially quick to get the extra-large, and double yolkers. You can’t usually find these eggs in a supermarket but they are especially popular amongst our local customers.
We also attend 2 local Farmers markets, one at Logierait and the other at Aberfeldy which are held once a month during spring and summer. Some people look forward to us arriving and are there early, complete with empty Egg Shed egg boxes to be recycled and refilled with another half dozen. Because our eggs are so fresh people can buy a few dozen at a time to last them until the next market and it is always nice to see our regular customers.
If you wish to find out more about The Egg Shed you can send an email to the Brewsters here