Age: 31

Sinéad Fortune is the founding director of Urban Catch Aquaponics, a Glasgow based social venture which looks at sustainable food production and alternative urban growing methods.

“At the moment we’re doing a lot of R&D into producing hyper-local, sustainable and zero-waste nutritious foods for an urban market. Right now, this means growing microgreens in the heart of Glasgow using vertical hydroponics methods. This would let chefs, restaurants, and foodies get the freshest possible products delivered within hours of harvesting and grown in one of the most sustainable ways possible with no pesticides, herbicides or petroleum-based fertilisers and minimal food miles.”

With a background in community engagement, Sinéad is particularly interested in how food and drink plays such a vital part in bringing people together.

“I’m fascinated by the power food has physically, emotionally and culturally to connect people. If you want people to come together, you provide food. If you’re working with community groups, food is almost always at the centre of what you do.”

Working as part of the industry, Sinéad has been able to meet the passionate people who would at every stage in the supply chain.

“I love the regional pride that various areas have for their local products, and the breadth of products Scotland is famous for from seafood to dairy to fresh fruit and veg and, of course, whisky.”

“Not to mention the restaurants; I live near Finnieston so I have some of the best places to eat in the UK on my doorstep. It’s a very exciting place to be if you love food! Scotland is also a land of innovation and there are amazing advances coming out of the bio-tech industry that parallel perfectly with Scottish food and drink.”

With all the changes going on in world politically and ecologically, Sinéad hopes that more young people will look to join the Scottish food and drink industry to help shape its future.

“What could be more important than food? It’s essential, it’s sociable, it’s creative and expressive, it’s nourishing, it’s political, it’s cultural, it’s a human right. Food is ingrained in every part of our society, and there are so many ways to get involved whether it’s growing it, making products, preparing and cooking it, or even on a political or policy level.”

“We’re at a very exciting time with food, but also a critical time. There are many issues to be worked out and a lot of challenges ahead, so we need bright, revolutionary people on board to challenge what’s happened in the past and push our food and drink industry to where it needs to be.”

For Sinéad’s #ScotFoodGoals, she hopes that the Scottish food and drink industry continues its work on becoming more sustainable, resilient, and fair.

“As we move deeper into challenging times environmentally, it is important that we build resilience into every industry and this is perhaps even more crucial in the food and drink industry. Everyone in Scotland depends on this industry in some way and sustainability and resilience needs to be built into every step.”

For Sinéad’s own #ScotFoodGoals, she hopes to continue her work with Urban Catch Aquaponics and hopes to play a part in introducing more sustainable urban food growing solutions through aquaponics, hydroponics, and vertical growing systems.