SRD Society Mid-Argyll Field Trip
5-7th November 2010
Six successful trips have been held since November 2007 allowing students to visit a wide variety of projects, companies and developments throughout the Highlands and Islands. The opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge by conversing with and questioning those responsible for the delivery and maintenance of these organisations has proven to be of immense value. Furthermore being able to interact and learn as a group has been of additional worth to those students learning via exclusively online methods who have had little or no exposure to campus life. Likewise the opportunity for students at all stages of the course to meet and share experiences
Each trip has aimed to present a diverse range of subject matter reflecting as broad a spread of modules within the Sustainable Rural Development syllabus as is possible. Whilst aiming to retain interest for those students in their third or fourth year we also try to incorporate areas of significance for more recent course participants.
Callanish Traigh Mhor
This area was chosen as a wide range of projects and organisations were easily accessible from the trip base at Kilmartin.
The itinerary was as follows:
Saturday 6th November
Blarbuie Woodland Project - Hugh Fife of Reforesting Scotland and project lead described the origins and development of Blarbuie Woodland, its reinstatement and its multiple health benefits. A powerful example of an innovative rural health initiative where patients, staff and volunteers from the Mid-Argyll Hospital have restored two areas of woodland originally planted and managed as part of the Victorian mental hospital to provide health benefits for its users. The woodland, its sculptures and other artworks are an example of what can be achieved by and for the users of this amenity and serve as an example of the potential use and health benefits of currently unused NHS land throughout Scotland.
Dalriada Project – Will Self, project officer gave an overview of this wide-ranging heritage, access, tourism and interpretation project. It has administered and run nine sub-projects for the past four years in conjunction with partners including the Forestry Commission, Scottish Natural Heritage, British Waterways, Kilmartin House Trust and others. A good example of a complex project requiring a high degree of co-operation and trust between a diverse range of institutions.
Argyll Community Housing Association (ACHA) - Gillian McInnes, Community Development Officer explained the social responsibilities of the second-largest housing association in Scotland, currently managing 5,500 tenanted properties. ACHA have combated social exclusion and fuel poverty through the award-winning FISH financial inclusion project.
Food From Argyll Project represents a significant piece of local economic development, where farm food is marketed to music and other festivals across the UK. Barbreck Farm is a particular success story where a tenanted holding now runs a meat delivery van and farm shop. We visited the farm to meet the owners and Fergus Younger of the project who explained the principles behind the marketing of local food and the maximisation of its value to local producers
The Scottish Beaver Trial is the first legal release of a wild mammal within the UK. The trial site in Knapdale was visited to show the significant effect they have had upon the release area and to discuss the wide variety of opinions as to the conservation value of the project and its longer-term implications.
During the evening we held the AGM of the SRD society.
Sunday 6th November:
Kilmartin House Museum is an award-winning archaeological interpretation centre. Museum staff kindly opened the site early on Sunday morning to allow us to visit the site before having to return home.
The aims and objectives of UHI Sustainable Rural Development Society are:
To raise awareness and increase understanding of the issues surrounding Sustainable Rural Development (SRD).
To provide a platform for discussion on SRD within UHI.
To motivate members to discuss, debate and respond to policy makers' decisions/proposals.
We aim to do this by raising awareness, encouraging members to question facts and opinions and by stimulating dialogue between students, academics
and professionals from the Sustainable Rural Development sector.
To provide opportunities to meet, socialise, share best study practice, and provide mutual support and encouragement.
To share resources, information and news of job opportunities, meetings and events in each of our regions.
To represent the Society at local and national level.
Do you have an interest in this area of knowledge and would like to share your knowledge and discoveries with like minded people? Then come and join the fun!