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Crowd Funding Project In Arran - Great Idea - Could It Work In Caithness?

1st February 2015

Photograph of Crowd Funding Project In Arran - Great Idea - Could It Work In Caithness?

Local business support as Arran Community Land Initiative
goes crowdfunding for farmland project. This looks like a winning project giving the opportunity for many people to get involved using the power of the internet and crowd funding which is growing all over the place.

Arran Community Land Initiative, a registered charity on the Isle of Arran, has just launched a crowdfunding campaign to help raise the money needed to run an ambitious farmland project. 

The charity bought 80 acres of disused farmland in December 2014 for a range of community projects - including a community garden and nature trails. 

The intention is to create benefits for the whole community by transforming the land.

The project 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 energetically kickstarting the crowdfunding 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 fully fund individual projects.

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 has launched 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 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.

More information on the initiative is on the company's website and getting involved in the crowdfunding campaign for the initiative can be done online here -

This is yet another example of the ‘can do' community energy on this magnificent island in the Clyde.

Of course Arran food and drink produce is famous - rightly so.
It's local tourism industry is arguably one the very best destination marketing enterprises in Scotland.
It succeeded in having waters off the island made a No Take Zone for fishing to recover and regenerate its marine environment.

COAST - the Community of Arran Seabed Trust won a determined campaign to have the seas off the south of island declared a Marine Protected Area.
The island became famous across the UK for its resourceful and imaginative marketing to attract the GP the NHS had been unable to attract. They made a wonderfully well produced video, marketing the attractions of the island and the lively outdoor lifestyle it enables - and promoting the challenges of the job some all-action footage of the air ambulance helicopter. Very James Bond - very in tune with the thrillingly rugged nature of the island - and very successful.
Then, a couple of years ago there was a vicious snowfall that brought down the power supply at Crossaig in Kintyre cutting off the Arran supply through the subsea interconnector. The island - and Campbeltown in Kintyre, another major sufferer - were in pretty well every national news bulletin for over a week as, in both cases, sections of road had 15-20 foot high snow walls on either side.

Residents were rising to the prolonged power outage inventively and communally, looking out for each other and protecting livestock. Energy supplier SSE eventually hired a CalMac ferry and shipped in portable generators and hot food vans, to keep these communities - and their vulnerable members - in a survivable condition.

When power was restored, the island thanked the exhausted SSE engineers by throwing a party for them, and giving them gifts of Arran produce.

That put the island right back in the news and in such a positive and generous light.

No one has anything to teach Arran about marketing – as no one has anything to teach them about accepting responsibility for their own condition and their own future -and going for it.

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