Knowing your produce: 7 ways to get involved across Scotland

Roll your sleeves up and learn how you can get involved with the food you eat

Published 13th Mar 2015
Updated 17 th Mar 2015

It's all well and good being a certified city slicker, with your cushy office job and your contactless payments in craft beer bars - but man can't live on suburban drudgery alone.

If you're a food fanatic who loves their organic produce, small-batch gins and craft beers - then how about giving back to a culinary culture that has served you plenty? Would you like to know the process behind your good eating and gain a new perspective on your produce?

Scotland's food and drink industry has a number of ways that you can gain first-hand experience and get down and dirty with the process itself, from picking fruit, to herding sheep, to making cheese from scratch. Get stuck in!

1. Get to grips with rural Scotland at Gagie House, Dundee

Ethical tourism is a fast-growing trend in the world of travel; the idea of giving something back to the community you visit. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) have been pioneering this idea since the early 70s and have a variety of host partnerships across Scotland.

The charity looks to connect those looking for a slice of the rural lifestyle with farming hosts looking for an extra pair of hands. Gagie House in the Angus countryside has took part in the scheme since 2004 and offers people the chance to get to grips with farm-life in the breath-taking outdoors. Duties range from planting, pruning to even helping with sheep during lambing season.

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2. Pick some produce at Chillicious, Fife

Gagie, Angus

Gagie, Angus. Picture: CC - Blu-Dog

Scotland's climate wouldn't lead you to jump to the conclusion that it's prime chilli producing ground, but Chillilicous have been proving that theory wrong for some time. The mother/daughter operation claims to be the UK's most northerly chilli farm and are looking for volunteers.

If you're looking to get your fingers green, then is a chance to up close and personal with farming duties and production tasks. Swapping your labour for food, board and agricultural know-how.

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3. Get down and dirty at Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh

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It doesn't take weeks away in the Highlands to connect with Scottish produce, there are plenty of city farms in need of volunteers looking for a slice of agriculture to break up their city routine.

Gorgie City Farm is a bus journey away from Edinburgh's Princes Street and is always looking for volunteers of all ages, looking to get stuck in with farm animals and poultry. The farm is a community initiative that looks educate inner city adults and children about food production, so expect a hands on role that will put you amidst the farming community, without leaving the city.

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Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh

Gorgie City Farm, Edinburgh. Picture: CC - Rhys A.

4. Pick your own fruit at Cairnie Fruit Farm, Fife

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Browsing the produce aisles at the local supermarket is one thing, but strolling through 45 acres of fresh fruit is a completely different shopping experience. Cairnie Fruit Farm is an award-winning location in the heart of Cupar that has been runner-up in Best Farm Destination in Scotland.

The fruit farm has an abundance of strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, gooseberries, tayberries, brambles & cherries, pumpkins and sunflowers - ready to pick and purchase.

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5. Turn your hand to brewing at Abbot House, Dunfermline

Looking to take in a slice of history and try your hand at brewing? Abbot House in Dunfermline offers both, teaching you about the site's connection to the brewing industry before letting you try your hand at creating one of their beer recipes and sending you off with a selection of your own produce to relax and bask in your hard work.

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6. Become a malt master at Glengoyne Distillery, Dumgoyne

You may fancy yourself as a whisky connoisseur, but how much do you really know about the process? Most distillery tours give a taste of the production behind-the-scenes, but Glengoyne offers the opportunity to work the magic for yourself. The Master of Malt Tour puts you in the driving seat, sampling blends and constructing your own personal Glengoyne whisky. This experience in unavailable anywhere else and is sure to give you a deeper understanding of the national drink.

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Glengoyne Distillery

Glengoyne Distillery. Picture: CC - Evert Kuiken

7. Take a cheese-making course at West Highland Dairy, Achmore

If you're wanting a more hands-on experience with your dairy produce, then West Highland Dairy offers three-day courses to transform you from a fromage novice to a mean, lean cheese making machine. You learn the biochemistry behind a mature cheddar and get stuck into a bucket in the kitchen before taking away your very own cheese to share with friends - smug grin guaranteed.

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