We are Kat and Kevin and we run Gartur Stitch Farm - an education-led smallholding that focuses on regenerative growing and making across traditional crafts, land-based skills and food. Through our on-farm events, online courses and publications, we’ve connected with thousands of people from all over the world across hugely diverse backgrounds and experiences of land-based craft and growing.
From past workshops, exhibitions and events covering crochet, knitting, natural dyeing, sourdough bread, foraging and even goat milking, we have so many amazing stories of people learning with us that crosses a whole spectrum – from folk coming to a farm for the first time and learning about how things grow and are made, to very experienced farmers who have been displaced and are seeking asylum here in the UK. As much as we've taught, we've learned just as much about different craft practices and growing techniques.
Our motto is "Life in the Making" and that is really the heart of absolutely everything we do. We take a very wide look at the making - we love to dig deep into how things are grown - the materials for our crafts, the dyes that colour things, the food that we cook with - as well as ultimately how they are disposed of. It is this wide view that informs our events and publications - how can we make more with what we have around us...even if sometimes the making is only a mess.
This spring, we’ve partnered with Creative Scotland to match-fund our sales so that we can make a few key improvements to our set up here at Gartur. We work in an incredible 200+ year old farm steading, but in order to build a robust programme of land-based craft workshops, exhibitions and events, we need to change some key bits of infrastructure.
Our old farm was never designed to host many folk and last year, our events came to an abrupt halt when we had problems with our septic system. The Victorians were great for many things, but their plumbing wasn't one of them. It was a blow after two years of reduced capacity due to COVID. With only one public loo in the house, we need to expand facilities in order to stay open.
We hope to use the crowd-matched funds to build a set of accessible loos on site to take pressure off of our current toilet in the house. This will enable guests to have a more comfortable visit without putting pressure on our delicate drainage system.
Our stretch target is focussed on improving our main workshop space. We’ve taken over a beautiful old barn for our workshops and exhibitions which enables us to host even more people and make even more of a mess. However, it needs a few improvements to improve its versatility - such as barn doors to protect us from the weather and usable electrics!
Alongside the facilities development, we are hoping to develop a scholarship for underserved communities across our range of workshops and events. This will be used to support both individual places on workshops, and also group events for communities groups as well as help with logistical issues like transport that can often be barriers to rural events. Equalities and diversity is central to everything we do here.
With updated facilities, we have exciting plans to create a new offering of land-based workshops centred on craft and food. With a weather-tight barn, we will able to upgrade other areas, such as putting in a workshop sink and workspace in the event barn and bringing in a new resident chef - Lucy Pattinson of The Fodderation, who is a specialist in open fire cooking and wild food.
While some of our events are still in development, we have listed a sample of what is to come. From workshops with friends of the farm, Jane Lindsay and Eilidh Weir on textiles and natural dyeing, to photography workshops with Kat to gorgeous farm and forest to table meal with Lucy, we have something for everyone. You can read more about the events and find the terms and conditions here.
We also will have the 6th edition of our Life in the Making bookazine: Rooted: From Soil to Made is a craft focussed issue, looking at eco-printing, natural dyeing, charcoal making and more.
Every workshop has a "Pay it Forward" option. If you love the sound of a specific workshop, but can't make it to us, you can buy a space for someone from an underserved community to attend.
Gartur Stitch Farm has been chosen as part of the 2023 Creative Scotland Crowdmatch competition. Creative Scotland will match individual pledges from the crowd up to a total of £10,000 per project. So if you donate £20 to our project, your donation will be matched with a £20 pledge from Creative Scotland, effectively doubling your contribution!
The great thing with the crowd-match set up from Creative Scotland is that you just make bookings and purchases that you usually would through our website, but until the 17th of April, if you book through the crowdfunder platform, Creative Scotland will match every purchase.
This means for every purchase or donation of £10, Creative Scotland will match £10, with a maximum match of £250 per transaction (and only the first transaction per customer).
You may remember that we ran a crowdfunder 5 years ago to improve the accessibility of our site. This work builds on that - expanding what we can offer and the communities we work with. Crowdmatch enables us to leverage our work in a way that brings in additional funds to get capital investment we wouldn't normally have access to as a small rural business.
Thanks so much for all of your support.