West Moss-side Organic Farm and Centre nr Stirling Scotland

Telling your story workshop

20th January StoryTelling Workshop
at West Moss-side

16 local food and drink  businesses from the Stirling Local Food Collective (Grow Forth a project of Forth Environment Link) met together with facilitator Jamie Jauncey. This is the West Moss-side Story:

West Moss-side – a place to meet, learn and grow


 

West Moss-side – a place to meet, learn and grow

Snow on the ground, calves in the shed and Ben Ledi, Ben Lomond and Stuc a’Chroin lost in the mist. Today was the day for Telling our Stories. The West Moss-side Centre  lived up to its strap line. The hayloft  worked its magic and  buzzed with our stories. Sixteen local food and drink folk took time out to discover just what lies behind their businesses. Ably prompted by Jamie Jauncey, it didn’t take much to get the creative juices flowing and to realise the common set of values which gave reason to our passion for our various food and drink businesses. Those values expressed through stories were given meaning and personality and so each business came alive. 

  

A common thread of many of the stories related to a respect of the local and the natural environment – the farm, the land, the careful way of production, the breeds of cattle, pigs or chicken, the provenance of the products used, the heritage of the buildings and the inclusion of the community in the enterprise.  Whilst many of the businesses have evolved as a consequence of the ingenuity and creativity of their founders to diversify small farms and allow family members to stay, others have made conscious decisions to set up businesses which better fit the aspirations of their owners. Whatever, the personal commitment was overwhelming and buying a pot of lemon curd or chilli jam; a loaf of sour dough bread or a bottle of beer or apple juice; a dozen eggs or a rasher of bacon; a meal in the local pub or a coffee and cake in the café – all will have that extra flavour now I know a bit more of the story behind each mouthful.

So - today the hayloft was party to all these stories and I think it told a few of its own too.  Ten years ago it was a derelict farm building – cold and abandoned. With the principles firmly in my mind of using materials which were all or some of the following : natural, local, reused, renewed, recycled I set to with the help of a local builder and tradesmen to breathe life back into the building. Its purpose changed of course, but the shape and the feel are true to its past life. The floor is the original pitch pine, the end window is larger and there are more windows in the roof and the wood burning stove an essential addition. The best story of the renovation is the steel staircase which was bought through ebay proving that you can buy anything on ebay. 10 years ago I had a dear friend who offered to help with the project and he was a whiz with ebay and the like…  This staircase was taken out from an industrial unit in Manchester as it was not needed.  It was stored in an outbuilding of the manager’s  mansion house for 5 years, but when the chemical plant moved to new premises the innovation park didn’t want it back! So what to do – what else! – put it on ebay - you can sell anything on ebay!  Fortunately we found it early on in the project so the rest of the building was designed around it!

 

Ten years on, the Centre features art work from tutors who teach the arts and craft workshops together with a collection of my baskets and weaving. What has this to do with the production of organic Shetland beef from the farm? Everything really.   The customers for the beef are visitors to the farm – on workshops, meetings as well as summer guests staying in Trossachs Yurts (that is another story). The cattle are my conservation grazers on Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve (that is another story too). So the cattle are at the centre of the story – without the cattle there would be no West Moss-side as I know and love it.  Enjoy your steak.

 

 

Kate Sankey

20 January 2016