Organic canary chard at Vital Veg, Aberdeenshire

Newsletter 14 September 2015

On the Farm
This week, the SRUC staff and Organic Agriculture MSc students visited our farm for half a day, along with Dr Susanne Padel from the Organic Research Centre. Fortunately the weather stayed fine and dry, and there was plenty of good discussion as we walked through the veg crops and out green manure trials. We now have four different trials of green manures being evaluated. With those that are sown underneath veg crops the timing of sowing the green manure compared to the stage of the crop is crucial.  We need to avoid competition with the crop, and avoid the green manure being so shaded that it won’t establish. There is so much still to learn!

New Scottish Organic Action Plan
Wendy, as Chair of the Scottish Organic Forum, is making a start on writing the new Scottish Organic Action Plan. There have been two very exciting stakeholder meetings in Weem and Perth over the last couple of weeks, as well as just over 700 responses to the online questionnaire (to which many of you have contributed – thank you!). The goal is to ensure that the new action plan brings maximum benefits to wildlife and the environment, whilst also achieving key benefits for farmers and consumers. 
The first meeting included representatives from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA), the Natural Beekeeping Trust, RSPB and Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, as well as an excellent turnout from both non-organic and organic farmers. You can see a few photos on our facebook page from the farm walk that preceded the afternoon discussions. Quote of the day, from the SBA: “organic farming is heaven for bees!” 

The second meeting at Perth included representatives from major buyers, wholesalers, farmers, processors, and policy makers including the Scottish Government. Critical issues were identified and prioritised, and potential actions to address them were discussed. As well as being an excellent opportunity for networking, there was a palpable feeling of energy and enthusiasm for cooperation between the various sectors. The deadline for delivery of the first draft of the Action Plan to the Government is next month, so it’s all systems go in the office! 

Golden Beetroot
Some of this week’s veg bags have golden beetroots complete with leafy tops. You can eat these, either raw in salads or lightly cooked. Two veg in one 