Transition Black Isle
History | Successes | Challenges | Contact
Transition Black Isle was formed early in 2009. Somehow the idea seemed to strike a chord locally, and initial meetings were attended by 50 or so enthusiasts. Gradually ideas became more focussed, and meetings were rationalised to more manageable numbers. With early funding from Highland Council and the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund we embarked on a range of projects, raising the profile of the group, starting community markets and community gardens, launching a Highland Food Challenge, lending out electric “smart meters” – a real scatter-gun approach, and looking back it’s quite surprising how many of these ideas were successful. As the range and scale of activities grew, it became obvious that we needed a more formal structure, and in 2011 (with help from Highlands & Islands Enterprise) we became a charity and a company limited by guarantee.
We run monthly community markets in Cromarty and North Kessock, giving an opportunity for folk to buy locally-produced food and crafts.
We had a three-year project, “Million Miles”, working on sustainable transport and aiming to reduce the annual mileage driven by Black Isle residents by a million miles – sounds ambitious, but then that’s a mere 1%. In fact, we exceeded the target by 30%!
On our annual potato day we sell around 15,000 seed potatoes, with around 60 – 70 varieties featured.
Through our trading company, Black Isle Ventures, we have been working to raise the profile of the Black Isle as a destination for “green tourism” – with a particular focus on cycling.
Our book “A Growing Guide for Fruit and Vegetables in the North of Scotland” is in its third print run, and this year we are running a series of training courses in growing.
We struggle to get much dialogue with younger adults – ironically enough, it seems they’re too busy working and raising families.
Publicising our work (and our agenda) is quite difficult – the readership of local papers is much lower than it used to be, and there’s a limit to what can be done with posters and Facebook.
Like all voluntary groups we face the challenges of replacing active members as, for whatever reason, they move on to other things. So far we always seem to have managed to find enough like-minded people, but sometimes it feels a bit touch and go!
We are lucky in Scotland to have good sources of project funding (the Climate Challenge Fund, and the various lottery funds deserve particular mention) but it can be difficult to maximise the ongoing benefit of the projects once the funding has run out.
We lack a geographical focus – the Black Isle has eight or nine villages of 1,000 + people, and a scatter of smaller villages, farms and isolated houses – so it’s impossible to find a venue that suits all our members.
www.transitionblackisle.org or via our Facebook page.