Hello English language learners and friends of Blue Noun English Language Hub in Scotland. Ordinarily, on our language school blog, I write for international English learners – trying to give a taste of our town and community to show what a great place Crieff is to come and learn English.
Today, however, I’m principally addressing Crieff and Strathearn residents – and asking if the environmentally friendly initiatives in our town shouldn’t become our tourist identity, our superpower, our USP – whatever you want to call it.
Crieff is an amazing town in the Highlands of Scotland – the only problem from a marketing viewpoint is that there are amazing wee towns right across Scotland. Yes, we have beautiful scenery – but so do they. There really are many good reasons to visit or live in Crieff – it’s just most other places have strong attributes too.
Since moving to Crieff 6 years ago, I’ve heard a lot of conversations about how to improve the town’s visibility to tourists, how to regenerate the High Street and ‘put Crieff back on the map‘ – and some great things certainly have started happening.
However, one thing that is rarely talked about in a business community wide way is environmentalism.
For me, any discussion of regeneration should be asking, how can we boost our town’s economic development AS WELL AS reducing our town’s carbon footprint?
Frankly, the whole world should be talking about it – and with Scotland hosting the COP26 in November – every community should be wrangling with these big questions too.
Not just leaving it to the kids to sort out!
Without disappearing down too many rabbit holes – like most communities, we have a division of interests and politics around environmentalism. Strathearn is home to farmers and vegans, traditional grouse estates and successful eco-businesses that trade on using land peacefully respectfully. Conversations get heated, opinions further entrenched and talks shut down.
We are all going to have different opinions on many things, but perhaps we can all agree that we want to attract tourists, build a community with good jobs for locals (and therefore less poverty) and decrease our carbon footprint and waste.
This can be our common ground.
And hurrah! We’ve already started!
I’d like to point out that Crieff is already home to two absolutely pioneering social / environmental initiatives that could and should have the whole county looking and learning from them.
I’d like you to consider whether waste is a subject we could unite on – and act on – until it becomes the marketing and regeneration proposal that our town is searching for.
Crieff : Less Rubbish Than Anywhere Else!
Example no.1: Surplus food drop at Crieff’s Community Garden
I’d firstly like to tell you about Tina McRorie, the Crieff Food Bank and the Community Garden.
For those who haven’t yet heard, local superhero Tina has managed to get the local Co-op supermarket to donate all its fresh food surplus to the local community, now via the team at Crieff’s Community Garden: thus saving it from becoming landfill.
Starting this week, crates of fresh fruit and veg at the end of their shelf life are donated to the local community by being placed in the Community Garden – with Tina herself collecting and delivering.
A bit of background
Our local Co-op have been doing charity collections for the food bank for a few years now. Generally in the UK you need to be referred to a food bank before you can access its services – but as there remain many people living in hardship outside of the social services and welfare system who cannot go through the process of a referral – or don’t want / can’t face the stigma of using it.
Tina was quite clear to me – anyone can use the Crieff Community Food Bank (phone number below).
During Lockdown, Tina began dropping off surplus fruit and veg to a phone box in the nearby village of Muthill, which had already become a library and larder for the folks in the village, ensuring that fresh fruit/veg reached people who were self-isolating and couldn’t travel to buy food.
You asked how the food bank has changed over the last five years well I guess we are busier than ever, so many people are struggling especially on benefits. The pandemic has hit families hard and less money has meant more need for our service.
I have been collecting the surplus food just before closing time at the Co-op since they started doing charity collections a few years ago , whilst it’s hard work the pleasure of knowing how much it helps people in our community makes it all worthwhile.
Feed Your Tortoise!
This collaboration between the Co-op, Community Garden and the Food Bank is genius. There’s no social stigma to collecting the veg – something that users of Food Bank often keenly feel. Plus it’s available to absolutely anyone.
It’s actually encouraged that everyone uses it – not just our community’s poorest.
“Feed your Pets! Feed your Tortoise” one social media post says. “It’s not for someone worse off than you – it’s going to the landfill if not collected”.
Crieff Community Garden
We’ve talked about Crieff’s community Garden on previous language school blogs: about how recently (during Lockdown) it has been rescued and transformed and is an absolute gem. Here’s how this latest collaboration came about.
“The initiative to hand out free fruit and vegetables at Crieff Community Garden was really spur of the moment. Tina McRorie who runs Crieff Food bank approached me to ask if Crieff Community Garden would like the excess veg from the food bank for our compost bins. I enquired further and she advised they receive far too much to hand out from the cop-op, to which I suggested we assist by having our own free fruit/veg stand at Crieff Community Garden.
We agreed to trial it, thinking if we don’t get much of a response, the veg is still saved from landfill and we’ll be able to compost it within the community garden. We started that night Monday 02/08/2021 and in the first 4 days managed to hand out 24 crates worth of fruit and veg”.
Catriona Smith, of Crieff’s Community Garden
For any policymakers reading this, think for a moment about the fact that people are leaving their house and walking or cycling to the garden to collect fruit and veg to take home and eat!
I’ve worked as an English teacher for a French government agency whose job it was to think of campaigns that would have such results (INPES – Institut National de Prévention et d’éducation pour la Santéin, case you are interested).
Seriously, a whole marketing department that was filled with health psychologists, nutritionists, patient groups and marketers, with the intention of getting people to ‘bougez plus,’ and ‘mangez 5 fruits et légumes par jour‘.
And Tina and Catriona just nailed it. Seriously. Tell the world. It’s beautiful.
Social Proof (in case you need it)
This anonymous letter was left at the fruit and veg stall at the community garden:
“Thank you for the free fruit. We enjoyed some strawberries and apricots in the community garden while the grandchildren invented some tales at your wonderful giant throne. What a remarkable effort the volunteers have made.”
Example no.2 : Remake
Remake is a Crieff based charity that diverts all kinds of reusable objects and goods from landfill and sells them back to the community at a very affordable price.
They have a ton of arts and craft supplies, including pens, paper and other stationery which gets repurposed for workshops with community groups.
Businesses and households donate furniture and every kind of household item. Some things get fixed or repaired before they go back out on the shelves. They also offer youth training opportunities and have a tool library.
Remake ‘inspire people to reduce waste‘.
Remake was founded in 2011.
Just imagine all the landfill that has been repurposed in this time. It begs the question, why is there not something like this in every town the size of Crieff (and larger)?
Local Solutions to Global Problems
Remake describes itself as a ‘local solution to a global problem‘.
It clearly is, but aren’t both our local solutions something that can and should be scaled up globally.
While the world looks at Scotland during Cop26, let’s make sure that ‘Crieff is on the map‘ and part of the conversation about change.
Crieff and Strathearn residents, there are amazing, pioneering projects already in your town. Support them, shout about them and emulate them.
Really, let’s make ‘Crieff: Less Rubbish than Anywhere Else’ something we all can strive for.
Thank you for reading this far.
Anybody is able to access the Crieff Community Food Bank should they need to by ringing 03453011100.
Find out about / support the Crieff Community Food Bank here.
Find out about / support the Crieff Community Garden here.
Find out more about Remake Scotland here
Want to know how Blue Noun English language School support our local community? Find out here.
A huge thank you to Tina and Catarina for taking the time to answer my questions – and of course, for everything you do for our town.
Blue Noun English Language Challenge
Every blog we give language learners an English language challenge to respond to.
‘Tell us about a remarkable solution to waste”
Tell us about something happening in your community, big or small. A design. A charity. A recipe!
Practice here! As usual, write as much as you like in the comments – and if you would like us to check & correct your English, write CP (correct please) at the end.
Live language learning!