NEWS SOPA visits Orkney
Unusual souvenirs go south after organic farmers tour Orcadian food and farming culture
Orcadian food culture was enjoyed by more than 30 organic farmers from SOPA who travelled from throughout Scotland to get a flavour of Orcadian food and drink.
"I know of at least two Orcadian bulls, plus quite a bit of seafood and happy memories that will travel south this year as a result of our visit" said Mrs Deborah Roberts of SOPA who organised the tour. "There have been nearly twelve months planning this trip to see the 30-plus organic farmers here in Orkney. We couldn't see all of the organic farms but we did manage to hold our Annual General Meeting while we were here, and it's been a great trip."
The tour included Bruce Thomson and Ann Mills of Queenamuckle Farm near Rendall, George Stout at Jolly's of Orkney in Hatston and finally Highland Park Distillery after which more than 60 people met at Orquil farm for the AGM and a very noisy evening of eating, drinking and talking.
The farmers were impressed by the red clover silage grown by Bruce and Ann at Queenamuckle Farm. "It is obvious that Bruce has been paying attention to his soil and getting the pH corrected by liming sand. Clover likes more neutral soils, and this crop of red clover would make any organic farmer envious" said Ms Roberts.
Moving away from the farming theme to seafood, George Stout of Jolly's of Orkney spoke about the variety and sourcing of the fish and shellfish stocked by their business. Skilled craftsman Alan Tait demonstrated the preparation of salmon fillets and to close the loop the salmon was cooked and presented at dinner at the close of the day. "After today I can really appreciate the years of skill and craftmanship that go into a piece of salmon" said organic beef and sheep farmer Sandy Smith from Glenkindie.
Award-winning Highland Park Distillery kindly hosted tours for SOPA in the afternoon. "It's about connecting the land with the water and enjoying the fruits of it all" said organic egg producer Alex Brewster from Dunkeld. "As a group of producers we are part of local food cultures in our own communities so it has been inspirational to see the quality of food and drink here."
The evening was enjoyed by more than 60 people, including a dozen or so children. The family atmosphere was very much enjoyed as organic farmers from the Orkney Isles mingled and chatted with SOPA members from many parts of mainland Scotland.
Mrs Julie Duncan, Chair of SOPA, who led the SOPA Annual General Meeting in the evening, said "The Orcadian approach to local and sustainable food is a fine example to us all. Orcadian food and drink, fish and farming businesses are clearly a hugely important part of this island community. Not only has the weather been bracing but the can-do attitude is refreshing too. I wish to acknowledge and thank Anjo Casey and her family for their hospitality at Orquil, and indeed everyone from the islands who assisted and joined in to such an experience for SOPA members."