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Starter farm opportunity planned for Tayside

Forestry Commission Scotland is to create a new starter farm in Tayside - giving a new entrant a valuable first step into running their own farming business.

This new opportunity will be created at Gourdie farm, near Dundee, which the Commission acquired in 2009.

The acquisition was part of the Commission's 'repositioning programme' which involves selling areas with low potential to allow investment in new land that delivers greater benefits.

This new starter farm will be a unique opportunity for a rural entrepreneur to develop a fully integrated horticulture and woodland business.

It comes on the same day Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced the second instalment of vital new entrants payments were being made to farmers.

Mr Lochhead said:

"This will be a great opportunity for someone looking to get their feet on the first rung of the farming ladder.  It will be the ninth starter farm to be announced across Scotland.

"This new starter farm at Gourdie is a positive development and another excellent demonstration on how forestry and farming is benefiting from each other."

Due to the potential horticulture and woodland mix, Forestry Commission Scotland is looking for someone with a broad set of skills to manage this starter farm. However, help will be on hand through on-going mentoring to assist the successful new farmer develop their business.

There are currently seven starter farms in operation across Scotland including units in Fife, Ayrshire, Stirlingshire, Aberdeenshire and Dumfriesshire. An eighth starter farm, to be located at Achnamoine in Caithness, is planned to be in place by Spring 2015. The Gourdie starter farm will be the ninth to be created.

The proposal at Gourdie is to create a unit of around 19 ha. Approximately half of this will remain open agricultural land with the balance being a mix of woodlands part of which has potential to help with additional income from orchards, fruit crops, willow or firewood.  Shelterbelts planted around this unit will also be utilised to provide routes for public access and corridors for wildlife.

The intention is to develop Gourdie in phases, starting with the initial starter farm. In the longer term, once the first starter farm has been established, there could be opportunities for two more to be created. In the meantime, the remaining land is to be leased out for growing arable crops.

There is no farmhouse available at Gourdie but the successful applicant will have use of part of the existing shed and hard standing. A restored borehole and ring irrigation system will also be available.

The Commission aims to appoint a tenant this autumn and then work closely with them to finalise the design the woodland elements before the tenancy beginning in late 2015.

Later this spring, applications will be posted on Forestry Commission Scotland's website with adverts appearing in the farming, forestry and local press.


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