A farm that was one of the first in Scotland to diversify its business into the tourism sector will visited by MSPs on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee today (Monday).
Laggan Farm in Castle Douglas was a traditional cattle farm until the business diversified; firstly by opening a caravan site on their land by the sea in 1935 and most recently an outdoor activity centre and café.
Laggan Farm is also part of the Agritourism Monitor Farm project, which aims to share knowledge and expertise among the Agritourism sector and other businesses in rural tourism across Scotland.
MSPs will visit the farm to hear first-hand from the McConchie family who own the business about the opportunities of moving into the ‘agritourism’ sector and how the Monitor Farm project is improving the productivity and ultimately the profitability of local businesses.
Convener of the committee, Rob Gibson MSP, said: “As the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee of the Scottish Parliament, it is important that we get out and about in rural Scotland to see what’s happening on the ground.
“The Monitor Farm project really is an innovative way of sharing knowledge and expertise in the farming sector but it also helps to sustain local communities by ensuring we have vibrant local businesses.
“Agritourism is a growing sector that encourages people to get closer to rural Scotland which helps to sustain local businesses. The Committee is delighted to be able to visit such an innovative business and see how it works in practice.”
The 18-month Agritourism Monitor Farm initiative is being managed by Scottish Enterprise.
Jacqueline Green, Scottish Enterprise’s Project Manager said: “Monitor farms are a tried and tested method of developing and sharing best practice, inputs and data which provide robust and valuable information to their own and other businesses. It is hoped that the investment by Scottish Enterprise will bring real benefits to businesses operating or considering agritourism as a way of diversifying their farm business.
“In the short time this new project has been running, we have been impressed by the way participants are sharing best practice and discussing solutions to issues facing businesses operating in the agritourism sector. I am confident that MSPs will be inspired by what will be discussed at the meeting.”
Caroline Millar of Go Rural Consulting, facilitators of the Monitor Farm project added: “The project generates ideas that will simulate the development of the agritourism industry which is currently worth £100m to the Scottish economy. The aim of those operating in the sector is to grow that to £200m in three to five years and we welcome MSPs on the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee who will see for themselves the ambition, drive and determination of diversified agri-businesses to create a vibrant agri-tourism sector in Scotland.”