By WiAS Committee Member Ellie Sinclair
Picture the scene. Tuesday, March 22nd 2022, is likely to be the only day of the Scottish summer that sprung early! With temperatures soaring above 17, it made for a great start to the first event of the year for Women In Agriculture Scotland (WiAS). Hosted by Jock and Fiona Gibson, the power duo behind Edinvale Farm, Dallas and Macbeth’s Butchery, Forres, we tailored the event to their business by arranging a farm Walk & Talk, alongside a tour of their butchery and shop.
Starting the day off right with a coffee and the opportunity to catch up with friends old and new, the tour started with Jock giving us a brief history of the farm, their businesses and his family with their story rooted in the field to fork ethos.
We then moved on to livestock and Edinvale’s focus on the breeding and finishing of traditional Scottish native Highland and Shorthorn cattle, being sold as an end product through their award-winning butchery. The discussion got off to a great start as Jock and Fiona gave us the background of the specific breeds and why they introduced them to the farm, alongside their methods and general approach to farming. They most definitely have their fair share to juggle, working and living on the farm, the livestock, the farm shop, the butchery in Forres as well as bringing up their own family! It was incredibly humbling to hear the high points as well as the low points that keep Jock and Fiona so busy day-to-day.
The tour then took a short stroll into the heart of Edinvale’s pasture. Fiona took the lead and spoke fondly of her flock of Shetland sheep. Given that the tour landed itself in the middle of the field, it didn’t phase one individual within the flock, who made herself quite known amongst the members of the group! At this point of the tour, we took the opportunity, given our surroundings, to discuss grassland management on Edinvale farm. Discussion opened and there was a fantastic conversation amongst the group, comparing and contrasting systems, concluding what works for one farm, may not always work for everyone else! Another key point was Jock and Fiona’s emphasis on their final product, beef. They measure the carbon release within Edinvale farm, with the ultimate aim to eliminate emissions for the beef you would buy within their shop – a hot topic with consumers and producers.
The discussion then turned to work-life balance, mental health and succession. Three enormous subjects that are rarely mentioned however they’re are important to the success and wellbeing of farming families. This was a fantastic opportunity to introduce Farmstrong to a number of the members on the tour. Originating from New Zealand, Farmstrong is an online platform providing material to help promote farmer wellbeing and stimulate discussion on these important topics.
With the sun beating down and conversation in full flow we decided to move down to the Dallas Hall, where lunch and refreshments were provided by local caterer, Myra Sutherland and her team. It was another fantastic chance to network with the rest of the group over a hearty bowl of soup and sandwiches, followed by the most impressive selection of traybakes!
Leaving Dallas Hall fed, watered and full of cake, we made the journey through to Forres to have a tour of Macbeth’s butchery. For many of the members of the group, this was their chance to experience a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the premises. Jock kindly gave us all an insight into the process, the cuts and the variety of products that they prepare and sell through their butchery shop. The butchery was bought by Jock’s parents in the mid 80’s as an outlet to sell their award-winning beef. Fast-forward to 2022 and the butchery now has a substantial online presence, and this has enabled them to develop and grow their product offering. Macbeth’s butchery shop is most definitely worth a visit to see the outstanding range of products available!
Finally, the Women in Agriculture Scotland committee would like to sincerely thank Jock and Fiona for hosting us and being so hugely accommodating. In addition, our thanks must also go ScotAgri for lending us a Honda UTV for access around the more inaccessible areas of the tour. And last, but definitely not least, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who travelled from near and far to attend the event and make it such a roaring success.
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