Regenerative Revolutions in South West Scotland

Knowledge sharing between farmers is well evidenced to support learning, through peer to peer support – the opportunity to share what works, and what doesn’t. This is the approach taken by the Regenerative Farming Network in South West Scotland.

Led by farmers, for farmers – the RegenFarm Network (as it’s known to its members) is an informal group for anyone with an interest in knowing more about regenerative farming. For some farmers this comes after years of reading and researching, and trying out some ‘different’ things; others are completely new and just sticking their toe in the water.

John Veitch farms near Gatehouse of Fleet. He joined the group over a year ago, first coming on a Farm Walk. He explains his reasons for getting involved:

“For a long time I’ve been trying to include nature and biodiversity in my daily thinking. I was aware of regenerative practices, and had been doing my own version – reducing fertiliser and grazing longer swards. It’s become clear something needs to change. I stumbled across this group when looking for further reading and learning opportunities. It was gratifying to find there was more local interest, a knowledgeable and friendly group who put up with me!”

Signing up to the RegenFarm Network gives you access to the email forum. Anyone can post to this, but mainly members receive a weekly bulletin with a round up of online and in person events, podcasts, videos, research and other reading.

What do we mean by regenerative? This possibly over-used buzzword presents its own challenges – the term is undefined and can mean different things to different people, or raise eyebrows! The RegenFarm network tries to present information and ideas around building healthy living soils, high nature value farming, holistic management and grazing systems, reducing inputs through biological and integrated management, and other topics of interest.

Further involvement can include attending monthly Farm Walks and other meetups including film screenings and socials. Dig a bit deeper and you can join the Soil Health Group. This smaller group consists of around 20 farmers who share access to the SoilMentor platform – a space to log results from hands on soil testing, such as infiltration rates and earthworm counts. The Soil Health Group also has a WhatsApp, and a weekly Zoom call – often with invited experts who provide short presentations and join the conversation.

The Soil Health Group is currently supported by the Scottish Government’s Knowledge Transfer Innovation Fund, and is part of a Scotland wide partnership project ‘Agroecology: Enabling the Transition’ between Landworkers’ Alliance, Pasture for Life, Soil Association Scotland, the Nature Friendly Farming Network, Propagate and Nourish Scotland.


Huw Connick, a farm and land manager working across South West Scotland, joined the group about a year ago. He says “every now and then people or groups of people come into your life at the right time. When I joined the Soil Health Group just about a year ago it came at the good time for me. As someone who works professionally in land(s) management and thinks differently, the group, and individuals within it, have stimulated my thinking, encouraged me by their examples, challenged me to keep thinking differently and expanded my mind and knowledge base, in a safe and non-judgmental environment.
A lot of the people in the group practice what they talk about and don’t just talk about it – there is engrained passion to regenerate land and not do harm. Above all they are living proof that More is Possible!”


One of the best ways to engage with the RegenFarm Network is through coming along to Farm Walks. These are often on members’ farms – folk keen to get input and feedback from others into their ideas while also sharing what they have learnt. That the discussions, the walks and the members are all locally based is seen as being important to group members.


Irene McCreath farms near Carsphairn. She points out that ‘even though we have a diverse range within the group, eg from shore level to hill tops, things still have a similarity which makes one person’s results and findings more relevant and relatable. For some of us it is lack of mains water and how to try and manage both grass AND access to water. For others it’s dealing with the sheer amount of rainfall in this area. All of it is useful and encouraging.’


Tim Barnes farms near Twynholm and has hosted a farm walk. He adds that “the Network provides connections with people locally, who are looking to develop their approach and practices in regenerative farming. The farm walks and the Soil Health WhatsApp and evening Zoom calls generate free and wide ranging discussion, about soil, farming practices, environmental and climate issues, as well as supply chain and other economic considerations”.


The RegenFarm Network is free to join, and open to all types of farmers and food producers. Our members include beef cattle, sheep and dairy farmers, as well as market gardeners. More information is available via our website https://www.dgsustainablefoodpartnership.org/regenerative-farming-network – this includes access to our ever growing resource library, podcast recordings featuring voices of some of our members, and more on the Soil Health Group. We welcome new members at any time.

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