Once upon a time, local food was simply known as food. The very idea that the bulk of our diet was trucked, shipped and even flown here would have seemed unthinkable to our great grandparents.

In a strange reversal of trends, Lochaber agricultural surveys show that some crops such as cereal and potatoes have reduced by as much as 90% over the past 100 years. Much of what we eat is now imported from abroad, which used to be a rare luxury.

It’s hardly surprising that there are serious environmental consequences that have arisen from modern food production and transportation and as the climate crisis rises ever higher in importance in all our lives, local food has never been so crucial.

Lochaber Environmental Group’s ‘Food Lochaber’ initiative, which received support via the Connect Local Regional Food Fund, aims to stimulate the production and consumption of local food in the region by encouraging partnerships between residents, restaurants, retailers and local producers who are encouraged to employ sustainable traditional crofting practices and grow using organic principles.

Food Lochaber strives to build the economic reasoning to encourage more crofters to turn derelict croft land back into productive use.

Through the creation of a single point of sale, the collective aims to concentrate efforts and focus buyer’s attention. Channelling traffic to the group, rather than to individual enterprises, allows a clarity of message promoting regional character as well an assurance that produce displayed is offered by members who subscribe to the group’s maxim that all produce should be grown using organic principles and traditional crofting methods.

The first Food Lochaber event saw food producers and growers from across the length and breadth of Lochaber meet at the Wildcat Café in Fort William back in January to discuss what was important to them and how best to get more of their fantastic produce out to a larger audence.

One Food Lochaber member, Adam Veitch who runs a micro bakery ‘Doughies’ from his home, as well as growing produce on the croft for sale via Food Lochaber said, “Crofters supporting one another isn’t a new idea, but it’s as relevant now as it ever was”.

There have been challenges to get to where we are now having just completed our first order cycle. Using ‘open source’ software has been a learning curve, as was negotiating the large distances between communities, but we now have around 11 producer members and are hopeful that as we increase our offering and capacity we will gather momentum and build a robust, sustainable and collaborative local food market where the provenance of the produce is clear, the food miles are low and consumers develop an appreciation of what is in season.

We hope to create a small machinery ring in order to grow our capacity and to widen our appeal to food service businesses as well as build on our regional brand. If you in our neck of the woods, look out for the ‘Food Lochaber’ marque that stands for quality.



Instagram @foodlochaber


Food Lochaber

Stephen McDonach