Celebrate the land with Michaelmas Open Day

THE date September 15th marks two milestones in opportunities for crofting: one for the land itself, the other for livestock – at the Michaelmas Open Day at Kenary, on the island of Grimsay, North Uist.

The Michaelmas Open Day, an annual event that celebrates land-based activities in the Uists, includes both technical presentations and public attractions. And this year there will also be hands-on workshops in wool, croft walks and machinery demonstrations, plus stalls with products of Uist woolwork, Grimsay baking and the Uist Veg Box Scheme, along with Grimsay Teas and Sandwiches.

Uist Wool has now received funding for construction of Phase one of the new spinning mill on Grimsay – and The Old Stewart Boatshed will be open from 11.30am to 3pm with an excellent Uist Wool display, alongside other additional exhibitions – in the croft house beside the site of the new mill.

Also significant is the start of the CALANAS/Wool-work training programme supported by the European Social Fund and Awards for All.

As part of the September 15th event, Dana MacPhee, the new Project Manager at Uist Wool, will discuss goals and plans for the new mill, for which construction will being in the autumn.

Following that will be workshops in fleece grading led by Chris Hammacott, and Uist Wool’s inaugural AGM.

And the Blackland Project will also launch trials of the Blackland Index – a new, practical, science-based method of assessing the potential agricultural value of the dark, wet, organic soils called blackland.

Following discussions led by Drs Bruce Ball (SAC); Ken Davies (SAC ret.) and Barbra Harvie (University of Edinburgh), participants are then invited onto the croft at Kenary to try out this quick and easy method.

Dr Oliver Knox (SAC) will also lead off with a talk on traditional rotations and crops, such as tares and buckwheat.

To book a place at the Blackland Conference (10am to 1pm), please telephone 01870 602954.