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An insect farmer, a tallow producer and a beekeeping group are seeking to base themselves at Balcaskie Estate in the East Neuk of Fife through Scotland’s first Pitch Up! project.

The trio of businesses have been announced as finalists of Pitch Up! The innovative scheme enables small businesses’ access to rural areas, providing opportunities to use land in a way that would not otherwise have been possible without renting or buying land. Launched in Scotland for the first time in October, Pitch Up! invited applications from a diverse range of businesses with sustainability at their heart.

The finalists for Balcaskie Estate Pitch Up! 2023 season are:

  1. Fife Insect Farm:Helena is aiming to found the first insect farm in Scotland to produce feedstock for pet, poultry and fish food. There is a growing demand for sustainable, high protein feed, which is almost exclusively imported from abroad at present.
  2. The Scottish Tallow Co:Tallow is an ancient source of healthy fats, treasured for its nutritional benefits and stability at high temperatures. Mostly lost as a kitchen staple in the rise of industrial seed oils, it is slowly coming back into mainstream awareness as a high-value food product. Right now, most of the fat removed during the butchering process is a waste product, and The Scottish Tallow Co seeks to reduce this waste by rendering and purifying it into a shelf-stable, long-lasting and nourishing culinary must-have.
  3. Fife Beekeepers Association:Association members of the Scottish Beekeeping Association. It is hoped that the Fife Beekeepers Association will build a number of hives across the Balcaskie Estate and teaching apiary, supporting biodiversity and pollination. The beekeepers would also lead educational tours and supply businesses based at Balcaskie and beyond with local honey and beeswax.

The finalists will now be invited to the Pitch Up! panel, enabling them to present their business plans in more detail, draw on the panel’s expertise to evolve these plans, and discuss the best ways of bringing their visions to life.

Pitch Up! provides opportunities for sustainable businesses to use fertile land and join a community of makers, benefiting from shared resources, expertise and retail opportunities. Founded in 2021 by Tim May of Kingsclere Estates in Hampshire, Balcaskie is the second partner estate (and first in Scotland) to join the project – and it is hoped that more land owners across the UK will join for the 2024 season.

Each finalist has been shortlisted for its potential contribution to the circular economy approach demonstrated at Balcaskie. Collaborative ‘enterprise stacking’ allows businesses to work together, sharing knowledge, experience and resources to make the best possible use of the land. This allows for the redistribution of waste materials for use in other businesses’ sustainable production. The creation of such a group of businesses supports year-round rural employment and contributes to thriving communities.

Sam Parsons, estate manager at Balcaskie said:

“We were blown away by the diversity of applications we received as part of  Pitch Up! and are looking forward to moving forward with these three finalists. I know that we were all heartened by the number of passionate people who are working to create a more sustainable future for Scotland. This process really shows the scope for new and improved approaches to farming and production in our area and beyond.”

Balcaskie Estate covers 2,000 acres in the East Neuk of Fife. With an organic and regenerative focus, farming practices include mob grazing, actively working to improve soil health, native wildlife conservation and the reintroduction of heritage breed livestock. At the heart of the estate is Bowhouse, a growing community of producers, which works to transform local ingredients into artisan food and drink. The Bowhouse Market Weekends have become a well-established fixture, welcoming around 4,200 members of the public every month.

The Pitch Up! team is calling for other farms and estates across the country to get involved in 2024 as Pitch Up! partners. For more information and to sign up to email updates, go to pitchupandgrow.com