The date is the 1st of January 2021. The United Kingdom has just exited the European Union, in the midst of the first truly global pandemic, at the height of a human-induced climate and biodiversity crisis. The full effects are yet to be felt, but economic and environmental challenges are inevitable and our social indicators already depict a society in crisis.
It is difficult from this position to comprehend the enormity of our collective predicament. To those of us who have experienced nothing but peace and prosperity in our lifetimes, the drama and dystopia are of a level we have only encountered in works of fiction and history, and it feels darkly grandiose just to describe our current reality. Against this backdrop, what choices face a small sheep farm in Central Scotland, and why does it matter?
Carbeth Home Farm’s 400 acres (160 Ha), are nestled in the Endrick Valley, between the Stirlingshire villages of Killearn and Balfron, with the Campsie Fells to the South East and the Trossachs to the North West.
The farm is carbon neutral, thanks to its woodland, and economically viable (just), thanks to its flock of sheep and to European subsidies. Since it last changed hands in 2000, it has been managed with care, and the soil health has slowly recovered from decades of intensive farming. This is not a farm in crisis like so many, crippled with debt, and struggling to survive, but its potential in classical agricultural terms is limited.
Where Carbeth may lack stature and agricultural prestige however, it benefits from a location that is both beautiful and accessible, being on the edge of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, and within easy reach of Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Its diverse habitats include pasture, mixed woodland, streams, and a mile of the river Endrick.
Through tourism, education, and engagement with our local community, we believe our small farm can generate income and employment, can make a contribution, however small, to reversing climate change and species loss, and could improve the physical and mental wellbeing of many people.