So how did Glachbeg come into being? Bob will tell you more …
I qualified as teacher in 1979 as one of the last trained rural science teachers. This was followed by 21 years of teaching science and finally overseeing the merger of the schools farm unit with a city farm who shared the school site. I then went out into other schools to encourage them to use the new combined school/community farm. They begun to use it and persuaded the local authority to adopt it as a Field Studies Centre. I then took a leap off the teaching career ladder and took on the post to develop the new Centre.
What a fantastic job, Millbrook Community School, Southampton City Farmers, The City Council, local people, all working together to create something special. I learned that the farm provided a great context for delivering all aspects of the school curriculum, and allowed all people to achieve at a level appropriate to them – adults and children alike.
I was then invited to join a group advising the DfES on using farming and growing as a context for learning, which was soon to become Growing Schools.
So how come we ended up here? We didn't really decide to come here, but a lack of decision making brought us here. A relative who stays in Inverness had sent us details of a local wildlife park that was for sale. We didn’t want to run that, but felt it had the potential of delivering the kinds of programmes we believed in. We shared those ideas at a series of meetings in the Highlands and were greeted with enthusiasm. We then started along the route of purchasing the park. When this fell through we decided we would still make the move, but find somewhere that we could start with a blank sheet; We found Glachbeg. We were going to build a log cabin, which we could afford, but instead decided to build a proper 'sustainable' building, which we couldn’t afford. This in itself would be an educational tool, and an inspiring place to work.
We are driven by a belief in the value of this context for learning across the community, and the importance of people knowing about the food they eat and the planet they live on. Not a highly profitable thing to do in monetary terms, but very profitable in satisfaction terms!