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SMO lecturer compares agricultural communities in Scotland and Norway

A lecture will be held on 1 November in Portree where the findings of a comparative study on crofters in Trotternish on Skye and farmers in the west of Norway will be discussed.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig lecturer Gavin Parsons, as part of his MPhil studies, researched and wrote a dissertation on ‘Crodh san fhuil (Cattle in the blood) – What keeps crofters crofting?’. His talk on the subject forms part of a series of community lectures which are being held during Sabhal Mòr’s 40th anniversary year.

In his research Gavin asked, do crofters in Trotternish behave in the same way as small farmers in the west of Norway? The study looked at two areas chosen for their similar topography and climate, similar sized holdings, and a similar population, yet where the land-use is not entirely the same. The work looked particularly at co-operative working, both formal and informal, which showed strengths which could be built on by agricultural policy makers.

Speaking ahead of his talk, Gavin commented: “I’m a crofter myself, so it was a pleasure to go round speaking to Skye crofters and small farmers in the west of Norway about their views on agriculture and its future.”

Gillian Munro, Senior Lecturer and Depute Head of Studies at SMO who was a supervisor for Gavin’s dissertation, said: “Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is proud of Gavin and the excellent research he has carried out in partnership with the people of Trotternish. The College counts itself very fortunate to have such a close, supportive relationship with people in Trotternish, and we are very grateful for the support given to Gavin. We hope that, with this lecture, we can give something back to the community that will be of interest and of use. The research shows how precious and important crofting and crofters are to heritage and farming today, and, by comparing agriculture in Trotternish and Norway, we hope that a good debate can be had about what we can learn from each other that will benefit crofting in our areas in the years ahead.”

The lecture is being held in partnership with Lasair – the Skye Gaelic Initiative.

Sìne Ghilleasbuig, the Development Officer for Lasair, said: “Whether we are crofters or not, crofting impacts on all our daily lives in Skye. Gavin’s research is dignified by the fact that he himself is a Skye crofter whose long-term interest in Norway began with the year that he spent as a young man on a farm in western Norway. We are delighted that in its 40th year, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig is delivering such an interesting series of lectures throughout Skye and Raasay.   This event is another great opportunity to communicate the fruits of dedicated research, inspire our island communities and share our Gaelic language with one another over a cup of tea.”

The lecture will be held at 7.30pm in the Training Room at the Aros centre in Portree. The lecture will be delivered in Gaelic and there will be an English translation. Admission is free and all are welcome.

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