North-east MSP goes 'Down on the Farm' in Rosehearty to promote agritourism

A North-east MSP has been promoting the benefits of agritourism during a visit to Down on the Farm in Rosehearty.

By Kevin McRoberts
Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 8:05 am
Mercedes Villalba MSP joins Matthew to meet some of the cattle down on the farm.

Mercedes Villalba believes agritourism – rural travel experiences on working farms – could provide a vital source in income for small farms in Aberdeenshire looking to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Labour MSP for the North East Region met Matthew and carole Short, the owners of the Down of the Farm, which offers “unique rural experiences, from farm tours to cream teas and quirky places to stay”.

Ms Villalba said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a real impact on the tourism industry in Scotland. Lockdown and the closing of borders has seen small businesses right across the North-east region struggling more than ever.

Mercedes and Carole at the Hobbit accommodation on the farm.

“It is important that we find new ways to enjoy safe and accessible leisure activities which can in turn support local communities and businesses, and agritourism is a great way to engage in sustainble tourism, while providing a lifeline for many small farms.

“By offering a different insight into rural life, the industry is increasing awareness and pushing towards more eco-living, sustainable farming practices and an overall strengthening of our connection with the environment.

“Places such as ‘Down on the Farm’ will play a vital role in our just transition and diversifying agriculture in rural communities across Scotland.

“Agritourism can be an important part of a more sustainable type of tourism in Scotland, and I’d like to see the Scottish Government work harder to promote the North-east and support our agricultural industry.”

Carole, who is also Aberdeenshire Destination Leader for Scottish Agritourism, was pleased to welcome Ms Villalba to the farm to discuss opportunities for the growth of agritourism, both at a regional level and nationally.

She said: “Our close-knit sector working together under the banner of Scottish Agritourism is driving the sector forward, using the Go Rural campaign to attract new visitors on to Scottish farms.

"It is important for us to be able to demonstrate to our elected representatives the impact of agritourism on individual farm businesses and wider rural communities.”