Gina Bates, Highland Veganics
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. She is also going to observe which of her hazelnut varieties do best and then plant more of them in another area of her croft for alley-cropping. She plans on trialling potatoes, flax, fava beans, quinoa, and root vegetables between the trees.
Alongside allowing the amazing biodiversity and wildness of the croft to restore, Gina is doing all three of our roads to stock-free farming!
Blessed with multiple talents, Gina is also building a glamping pod so she can offer guest accommodation to help boost the croft’s income.