New Farm to Fork Connections Sparked by Producer Tour

A producer tour, held on Thursday 16 May at Upper Ballaird Farm Co-op in Balfron, has ignited six promising new connections between local food and drink businesses.

Industry news Scotland Food & Drink news
Published: 23/05/2024

A producer tour, held on Thursday 16 May at Upper Ballaird Farm Co-op in Balfron, has ignited six promising new connections between local food and drink businesses.

The event, jointly hosted by Forth Valley Food and Drink and STEP Scotland, provided attendees with an in-depth look at sustainable farming practices and community-rooted agriculture.

The tour showcased Upper Ballaird's innovative approach to community-supported agriculture, where members share in the harvest and benefit from fresh, locally grown produce.

Louise Docherty from Upper Ballaird expressed her enthusiasm about the event's impact: "We currently work with Stirlingshire based Restaurants, An Darna, The Orangery and The Gargunnock Inn.

“It’s exciting to get into conversations with more businesses that want to help make local agriculture more sustainable.

“The tour has laid the groundwork for this to happen."

Philipp Grunewald, co-founder of the co-operative, echoed this sentiment: "Our vision for Upper Ballaird is to create a hub for agroecological farming and community engagement.

“Meeting other businesses that are passionate about this is difficult.

“Forth Valley Food and Drink and STEP are helping to make those connections."

After exploring the farm's impressive network of polytunnels and growing areas in the morning, participants were treated to a delicious open-fire cooked lunch prepared by Lucy Pattinson and Kat Goldin of Fodder + Farm, featuring fresh, locally sourced vegetables and venison from the nearby Cardross Estate.

Kat explained: "We are huge advocates of food grown here in the Forth Valley and we want to see as much locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat and game, not only in our own farm to table events and our line of pickles, spices and preserves, but also in neighbouring markets, menus and homes.

“These producer tours are a good way to start this conversation with locally minded retailers and restaurants in the area."

Attendees on the day included representatives from The Westlands Hotel, The Oak Tree Inn, Karma Lake of Menteith, The Woodhouse Kippen, Kahani, and Weigh Ahead, among others.

Forth Valley Food and Drink network coordinator Stacey Spence shared her excitement about the potential partnerships: "We organised this event with STEP to foster new business connections and collaborations that support the growth and sustainability of the Forth Valley food and drink sector.

“We’re excited to see more fresh, sustainable produce being served up in local cafes and restaurants across Forth Valley.

“Several of the businesses are also considering stocking products from Fodder + Farm after enjoying their delicious food at lunch!”

The tour was made possible thanks to funding from Scotland Food & Drink’s Sourcing Scotland Regional initiative.

Fiona Richmond, Head of Regional Food at Scotland Food & Drink said: “The success of the producer tour underscores the importance of community-supported agricultural initiatives and the benefits of local sourcing.

“As more cafes and restaurants seek to incorporate local seasonal vegetables into their menus, events like these play a crucial role in fostering connections and promoting sustainable growth in our industry.”

For more information about the farms and their initiatives, please visit and

To find out more about Forth Valley Food and Drink network, one of Scotland 19 regional food groups, see

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