There are two shortlisted projects in this category, please read them both before voting.
Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd
Truffles are fungi that grow in symbiosis with trees. Amongst the world’s most sought-after delicacies, the native British truffle (Tuber aestivum syn. uncinatum) commands prices of £400/kg. Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd (MSL) developed an innovative method to successfully cultivate this species through the creation of native woodland planted with trees that have been nurtured to host the truffle fungus. With a base on the Isle of Bute, MSL has so far established four truffle woods across Scotland, in partnership with land custodians, and although cultivation takes at least 6 years from planting to harvest, cultivated Scottish truffles are already being produced.
After six years of work, the first cultivated truffles were harvested in 2017 and were warmly welcomed by famous Michelin-starred Scottish chef Tom Kitchen who declared ‘it would be a dream come true to get a regular supply of Scottish truffles’. Pam burton, chef at Inver restaurant in Argyll which has won a fistful of plaudits since opening in 2015, also received some of the first truffles and said ‘I’m delighted that our natural larder now includes the delicious flavour and aroma of truffle. It’s a flavour that is very evocative of the seasons and of the land, and a certain place and time in it’.
Working in partnership with land custodians across Scotland, we have established four commercial truffle orchards and we plan to expand this substantially. The cultivation of Scottish truffles brings a new dynamic to the Scottish food and drink landscape, exciting diners and chefs alike. Although the majority of the harvest in the early years will continue be used by Scottish restaurants, we are aiming to increase cultivation substantially to develop an export market and thereby create another jewel in the crown of Scottish food exports. With global truffle distribution expected to be worth an estimated £4.5Billion in the next 10-20 years, the contribution to the Scottish economy could be sizeable.
Forth Environment Link (FEL)- Stirling Neighbour Food
Stirling Food Assembly brings local producers and local communities together by facilitating the purchase of locally grown or locally produced food by local people. They use an on-line platform which is designed to be incredibly easy to use by customers, whilst the ‘model’ means that local producers keep 80% of all the sales they make (compared to say 20% of what they would make if they sold through a supermarket). Stirling Food Assembly was set up in 2016 and already has 1900 members with over 4,200 ‘baskets’ sold. The buy local ethos of the project has attracted interest from a number of other rural areas as until recently, FEL only ran one Food Assembly – in Stirling, but now with the help of LEADER funding they are rolling it out across a number of rural communities in Perth & Kinross, Fife, Scottish Borders, Stirling and Clackmannanshire.
The rural innovation lies in the way it brings communities together while supporting local agriculture and rural food producers. The food Assembly platform pulled out of the UK recently fortunately Neighbour Food Platform which operates the same model as Food Assembly, provided a timely fix so Stirling Food Assembly became Stirling Neighbour Food. What makes Stirling Neighbour Food standout – and will be rolled out as part of the next stage LEADER project – is the community leading the project with the purpose of connecting people better with the seasons, their local food producers and their environment, thus appreciating the real value of food and helping to prevent food waste.