The Caledonian branch of the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST), met for it’s 2014 AGM at the New County Hotel in Perth recently. The group is celebrating increased membership and renewed interest in it’s work in the protection and conservation of Scotland’s less commercially viable livestock and poultry breeds.
Donald Broad from Aberfeldy was re-lelected as Chairman of the Group.
After the AGM, the group enjoyed a meal at Gavin’s Bistro, which offers a special Slow Food Menu, Perth being Scotland’s first Citaslow town. The Slow Food movement promotes locally sourced food ingredients that have been produced using less intense farming methods. This is the first time the Trust’s branch in Perthshire has made a connection with an international organisation that reflects it’s values. 

Trust Membership
Membership of the Caledonian Group of the RBST is at it’s best level for several years.The recent addition of six new people brings numbers to around 90 - double the number registered two years ago. Membership is open to anyone who wants to support the RBST’s cause and also see more unusual livestock like Castlemilk Moorit  sheep and British White cattle on farms in Scotland.
Last year, the RBST Caledonian Group organised a number of well attended events to promote awareness of endangered breeds like Soay sheep, Shetland cattle and Eriskay ponies.
Without continued support from interested farmers, smallholders and equine breeders these ancient native breeds could face extinction. In particular the rare breed sheep and cattle don’t fit into modern farming practices that focus on fast growing, big return livestock.

Profile Raising
Increased efforts are being made by the group to find a market for the high quality meat and produce that come from these rare breeds.
At the meeting, the group agreed to raise it’s profile by having a presence at several of the 2014 Highland shows. Volunteers plan to have a stand at nine events, including Blair Horse Trials and the Perth Show.
A new event, the first Smallholder Festival in Scotland, is being organised by Rosemary Champion, who started the popular online blog, The Accidental Smallholder. The forum now attracts international posts from people interested in keeping hens or growing their own food at home.
Rosemary says she decided to plan a Smallholder Festival in Scotland after attending one in Wales last year. “In a fit of patriotism, I came back from Wales wondering why Scotland couldn’t have an event like this.”  The Smallholder Festival will take place in Forfar, on Sunday 30 September.
For more information about RBST, contact Ian Bell, Secretary of the RBST Caledoinan Group, CLOAKING
More can be learned about rare breeds and country living at www.accidentalsmallholder.net

by Melanie Bonn

Photographed above by Melanie Bonn, these Soay sheep are thriving on her holding in Glen Lyon

 

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