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Local businesses support community land project on Arran

02 February 2015

A community group on the Isle of Arran have launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise vital cash needed to run an ambitious farmland project.

Arran Community Land Initiative, a registered charity, bought the 80 acres of disused farmland in December 2014 for a range of community projects including a community garden and nature trails.

The group plans to benefit the whole community by transforming the land, and already has the backing of a number of island businesses including a generous pledge from one of the island’s most popular attractions, the Arran Distillery, who are pleased to be kickstarting the campaign and hope their generosity will encourage other businesses and private donations.

The campaign is part of a pilot initiative by Highlands and Islands Enterprise to explore the use of crowdfunding by community groups in order to secure match funding or to fund individual projects entirely.

Arran produce is of world-renown with multi-award winning whisky, ale, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, fudge, chutneys and oatcakes. Arran Community Land Initiative treasurer Juliette Walsh says:

“It would be wonderful to expand the fantastic produce here on Arran with further fresh home-grown produce. By introducing crops, orchards, allotments and community growing spaces to these fields the group hopes to help the island become more self-sufficient and give locals and visitors the chance to consume more fresh rather than imported fruit and vegetables.”

The group was recently awarded £181,500 funding from the Scottish Land Fund to enable them to buy the land. The crowdfunding campaign launches today on the popular crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, with a target to raise £6,000 to cover the costs of developing the land.

A number of individuals and island businesses have already chipped in to contribute perks such as hotel nights, adventure activities, sponsored trees, and photography  in return for donations to the campaign. Contributors include The Douglas Hotel, The Altachorvie Hotel,  Arran Outdoor Education Centre, Arran Graphics, Mark Bunyan Bushcraft expert, Andy Surridge photo prints, Henry Murdo native tree expert, Roots of Arran Forest School Leaders, the Arran Bike Club, the Community of Arran Seabed Trust and the Brodick Castle Ranger Service.

The planned recreational facilities include nature walks, camping pods and mountain bike trails as well as community gardens. The land will also be used for delivering a variety of education courses including qualifications in land-based skills such as horticulture and as a space for outdoor learning for Arran schoolchildren and visiting groups.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise have contracted Scottish company Hot Tap Media Ltd to offer consultation and support to between three and four community groups in the region.

Members of the public can get involved and offer their support by contributing to the campaign. The wide range of perks on offer to tempt contributors range from planting of the famous endangered Arran Whitebeam tree to nature walks, family adventure activities and holidays as well as guided walks and cycles, with something for every taste and budget.

The trustees envisage the generation of further volunteering and job opportunities and the group is to shortly advertise a part-time position for a Development Officer to work with the board of trustees, members and volunteers to attract additional grants and help ensure the long-term success of the project.

For more information visit: www.arranland.org and visit their campaign on Indiegogo: igg.me/at/arranland

  • Arran Community Land Initiative (ACLI) was set up in March 2013 and is registered by the Scottish Office of the Charity Regulator (OSCR) as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO). ACLI’s charitable objects are to provide an area of land on which training courses and sports can take place. ACLI proposes to buy and bring into use an area of 32.76 hectares of disused, arable grazing and undulating hill land which lies on the slopes above the village of Whiting Bay on the east coast of Arran. The need for such a community land-based resource has been identified from a wide communication and consultation exercise. This consultation also showed strong support for wider activity around the desire to bring at least some of the land into production again with particular support for a community garden and orchard along with soft fruit production.
  • The Scottish Land Fund has £9 million over four years to assist communities in rural Scotland to acquire, develop and manage local land and land assets. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and delivered in partnership by the Big Lottery Fund and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, both of which have extensive experience of helping communities to acquire and develop their assets for over a decade.
  • Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is an economic and community development agency delivering the Scottish Government’s economic strategy across a region which covers more than half of Scotland.

    With around 300 staff, HIE supports hundreds of client businesses and social enterprises; strengthens communities, particularly in fragile areas; develops key sectors, and invests in infrastructure to create a more competitive and low carbon region.

    Our priority sectors for growth include Energy, Life Sciences, Food and Drink, Creative Industries, Tourism, Financial and Business Services and Universities.See more at www.hie.co.uk
  • Hot Tap Media is a digital production company based in Glasgow which uses digital platforms to connect communities and increase our enjoyment of the world. They have delivered crowdfunding campaigns for a number of projects, including feature films Not Another Happy Ending and Fireworks, and also deliver the youth engagement project somewhereto_ in Scotland. www.hottapmedia.com

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