A community group on the Isle of Arran will today launch 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, icecream, 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 & 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 White beam 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.