Yes, it is an open group and people are welcome to join at any time. We expect that businesses will benefit the most where they are able to participate in the meetings, however 1 to 1 support is also available.
The project is working towards the overall aim of supporting the development of new products and services. The sessions will be tailored to ensure that meeting content is both relevant and useful to the groups as their ideas develop. Participants are welcome to attend all or as many of the meetings as they wish and their input on meeting content particularly guest speakers is always welcome.
All Uist agriculture, food, drink and tourism businesses are welcome to get involved. An initial group of businesses attended the launch meeting in May ’19 with a number of businesses registering interest for future meetings. Meetings are open to all and anyone, at whatever stage of business development. Partner organisations such as Outer Hebrides Tourism provided support at the launch event and will continue to be involved throughout the project.
All Northmavine agriculture, food, drink and tourism businesses are welcome to get involved. An initial group of 20 people attended the launch meeting in May ’19 however it is envisaged that the group will grow. Meetings are open to all and anyone, at whatever stage of business development. Partner organisations such as Visit Scotland, Shetland Food and Drink, Shetland Tourism Association will also be involved where relevant.
The Northmavine project is being facilitated by Weave Consult who are a business development consultancy based in Aberdeen. Rachel Gambro is the project lead and will be assisted by Kirsty Scott
Lynne Maciver and Kathy McMillan from Maciver Project Services are the facilitators working with the Uist Cohort. Based in the Outer Hebrides, they have experience in supporting and developing businesses across a range of sectors and growth areas.
The areas were chosen by HIE as both have many strengths that could be capitalised on as part of this project e.g. unique landscape, active crofting community, strong community, quality tourism businesses. But it is recognised there are challenges too such as a short visitor season, the micro nature of many tourism, the challenges of crofting businesses, a tight labour pool, distance from many markets.
Rural Food Tourism Places is an opportunity for innovative thinking and action, in a supportive environment, around these opportunities and challenges.
The project will run for up to March 2020. It is envisaged there will be 4 meetings per year with ongoing dialogue and support available between meetings.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise has commissioned the work with the main contacts as Neil Ross and Sarah Marshall in Inverness. Fiona Stirling from the Shetland Area Office is the local HIE contact for Northmavine and Joanna Peteranna for Uist.
In Northmavine, HIE has commissioned Weave Consult to facilitate and support the local cohort. Weave’s role is to bring together local businesses, crofters, interested individuals, partner organisations from the area to:
- identify the unique assets and strengths of the areas
- identify opportunities and how these could be realised
- encourage new ideas, innovation, collaboration, strengthening of existing assets, products
- encourage knowledge sharing, learning from each other and best practice.
In Uist, HIE has commissioned Maciver Project Services to facilitate and support the local cohort. The role is the same as that for Northmavine.
The role of the facilitators is to build relationships, encourage exchange of dialogue and ideas, bring in inspiring “experts” to share knowledge, practice and stimulate new thinking based on areas of interest identified by each Cohort.
As ideas develop, the facilitators, supported by HIE, will help identify appropriate sources of support to fully investigate project ideas and hopefully, bring these to fruition.
To realise a minimum of two new, substantive innovations, products or services by nurturing collaborative business opportunities and agriculture diversification in each of the pilot areas.
Scottish Enterprise has successfully trialled an Agri-tourism monitor farm concept where local farmers and business met to explore opportunities for agricultural diversification through bringing together a wide range of people, sharing learning, collaborating and facilitated meetings. The Scottish Government was keen to see a similar process tried out in the Highlands and Islands.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) recognised that due to different local circumstances, an alternative approach is needed in the Highlands and Islands; they’ve called this approach “Rural Food Tourism Places”.
Rural Food Tourism Places is looking to join the dots between the food and drink, tourism and primary production sectors to help diversification in agriculture. HIE believes that there might be some exciting opportunities through doing this and the approach is being piloted in two places, Northmavine in Shetland and Uist in the Outer Hebrides.