Alderney Visit Proves Inspirational For Islands’ Farmers

The delegation from the Isles of Scilly on their visit to Alderney. Photo by kind permission of Martin Batt/Living Islands.

The delegation from the Isles of Scilly on their visit to Alderney. Photo by kind permission of Martin Batt/Living Islands.

Visiting Alderney has given Scilly’s food producers inspiration for ways to improve projects here on the islands.

That’s the view of Farmers’ and Growers’ Initiative staff Jess Vian and Kylie Carter. The women joined a party of twelve other islanders from the farming, food and wildlife sectors to tour facilities in the small channel island, 60 miles from the UK mainland and 8 miles from France.

Jess says Alderney’s resident population of 1,903 is similar in size to Scilly and she describes the island as looking like a larger version of St Martin’s. But unlike our own islands, tourism and flower farming are less important there today.

They have similar freight delivery challenges, with a weekly boat from the mainland and nearby Guernsey.

The group toured the sole farm operation on Alderney to see how they operate. The island produces its own beef, pork and dairy products. And honesty boxes, a farmers’ market style shop and a Saturday produce market provide retail space.

Jess says their abattoir was a “major inspiration” to see, particularly as islanders have wanted a similar facility here in Scilly for so long.

From Radio Scilly

Jess Vian and Kylie Carter talk about their trip to Alderney

It’s a small unit but still has a throughput of around 85 cattle and 150 pigs a year.

The Channel Islands are outside the UK, so there’s no EU funding, but it also means some of the European regulations enforced here don’t apply.

Their government decides what’s best for the producer and milk prices, for instance, are fixed. Farming is “joined up,” says Jess.

Jess says their experiences in Alderney were both an inspiration and a warning. While the residents of Alderney have embraced food production, she says their tourist industry has declined much more than ours over the years. In some ways they’re years ahead of us and in others they’re behind, she says.

Jess says the islanders of Alderney were “a great bunch of people who couldn’t have helped us more.” She’s keen to return the favour and invite them to visit Scilly.

Jess and Kylie will now meet with farmers and growers who couldn’t make the trip to share the Alderney producers’ best practise.

You can read more about the visit on Alderney Living Islands.