Bordering on the banks of the beautiful Oykel River, in the heart of Sutherland’s sheep country, Gina Bates is creating the first plant-protein croft in the Scottish Highlands!
At the start of February, 2020, Gina and a crew of volunteers began planting an orchard of 312 hazelnut trees on her 80 acre Highland croft. After doing much research and receiving expert advice, Gina and her crew planted 6 different varieties of hardy hybrid hazelnuts. Wild hazels, already growing next to the four-acre orchard, will help with pollination.
Gina crowd-funded the project raising £5,500 to cover the cost of the saplings and the fencing to protect them. Almost three months on, all the trees are coming into leaf. In 2-4 years time, Gina will have a crop at a yield of approximately 12 kilos of nuts per tree per harvest.
Other plans? Gina has 150 sweet chestnut trees ready for planting, and 100 blackcurrant bushes.