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Tombreck Farm
Lawers
Aberfeldy
Perth & Kinross
Scotland
PH15 2PB

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THE TOMBRECK ACTION GROUP

The Tombreck Action Group (TAG) was founded In March 2003, by a group of people, including Tober Brown, local people and friends of Tombreck, with a vision for the future:

"To work as a farm, and to diversify into other activities so as to include other people, and to provide housing and employment at a sustainable level."

The question was 'how could a farm, which 150 years ago supported several families and now failed to support even one, be vibrant and productive once more'?

 

THE TOMBRECK ACTION PLAN

These proposals were created after discussion and consultation with many different people, with the aim of enabling the farm to become productive and self supporting. The regeneration of Tombreck was not to be about ‘economic growth’ or large incomes for a few people, but rather the creation of an enjoyable and sustainable lifestyle for the 7 to 8 households families, couples, singles, young and old, who would live on the farm. It was hoped that within five years, the infrastructure would be complete, the existing buildings in use, the woodlands planted and maintained and a farming direction found.

Projecting forward 20 years, we imagined a vibrant life once more at Tombreck, with the work complete, (!!) but with ongoing developments.

Below are some of the ideas from the Tombreck Action Plan, which was adopted on 26th March 2003.

 

Land Use Proposals

WOODLANDS 

Planting as “assisted regeneration” in the small wood beside the road. Improve timber quality by selective felling and high pruning, plus coppicing and thinning operations, to produce firewood and charcoal. Felling some of the existing larger trees for building materials. The first phase of this has commenced with the harvesting of 15 of the alder trees to construct the structural frame for the cart shed conversion. Willow planting, approximately an acre of basket willow in the field to the east of Easter Tombreck. A fencing grant will be applied for. Establishing an organic tree nursery specialising in locally sourced seed from native tree species. This years oak, ash, alder, birch and hawthorn seeds have been collected and planted in seed trays ready for planting out next year. To share fencing costs the tree nursery is being established alongside the willow planting. Replace the old fir wood above the road, Scots pine and birch, 1 acre. New “plantation” in the area of rough grazing beside the hill track. About two acres of Larch and Douglas fir, species that should be commercially useful as building timber in the future. Sites for new shelter belts have been identified. 

CULTIVATION

All the fields below the road should be drained, ploughed and re­seeded. This would improve the soil quality and increase grazing productivity. Sheep and cattle feed for supply to Gordon (seasonal grazing tenant) Potatoes/market gardening of organic produce. Soft fruits, blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries for fruit beers. Beekeeping,which also improves pollination. The brewery, once in commercial production, will produce a large amount of spent malt grain as a by­product. It is proposed to purchase one or two young pigs to eat this grain. The pigs in turn will turn over and clean the ground and could be used to clear areas of bracken within the woodlands. Further development of the vegetable garden and polytunnel. Amenity tree planting, including a shelterbelt along the track. 

 

Employment / Development Proposals

‘Jobs’ to be created in the spirit of “collaborative self­employment”.

Current employment on Tombreck is one part time shepherd job. Employment proposals are,

SHEPHERD to continue.

BREADALBANE BREWERY. One to two days a week for the three partners, creating three part time jobs, one full time equivalent Future expansion could create another three or four jobs.

FARM under organic cultivation, one full time job plus part time seasonal work.

ARCHITECTS studio within converted Cart Shed two full time jobs.

BASKET maker operating from the converted Cart Shed. One full time job plus part time seasonal work, basket making and educational basket making courses.

FORESTER. On going part time job.

WOODWORKING WORKSHOP Relocating of joinery/cabinet making business from Crieff to Tombreck.

WOOD­CHIP community heating renewable energy scheme, one part to full time job with on­going maintenance, and wood chipping. The consultancy and feasibility phase of this project

will create ‘in­house’ knowledge and experience.

INFRASTRUCTURE and BUILDING PROJECTS. The construction of four new build houses, the renovation of a further four buildings, plus associated access, water and drainage systems, will provide

a considerable amount of local employment for all trades. 

 

Existing Building Proposals

BYRE. Repaired and re­roofed in 2001 and currently in use as workshop and equipment store. The woodworking workshop and the wood­chip heating plant will be located here.

BARN. This was once the Tombreck Mill, and is shown on some old maps as “corn mill”. Repaired and re­roofed two years ago it is now home to the Breadalbane Brewery. 

CART SHED. The proposal is to convert into an office/workshop/studio to be used by an architect and a basket weaver. The building design has a strong ecological agenda and is intended to be a showpiece demonstrating the use of natural and locally sourced materials. 

GRANNY­HOUSE. The last remaining croft house still standing at Tombreck, in use as a shed until recently it is to be rebuilt using the same ecological design methods as the Cart Shed.

FARMHOUSE. Built in the 1920’s and still in use as the farmhouse. It requires some upgrading to bring it in line with modern comfort standards, but is basically sound. 

THE ‘MANSE’. Previously lived in by the minister at Carie Church, this small dwelling is sited in the woods on the western boundary of the farm. It requires re­building and renovation work.

 

Housing Proposals

For people to be able to live and work at Tombreck it is important that low­cost, affordable housing is available. It is hoped that a total of eight households will be accommodated. 

GRANNY ­HOUSE, to be rebuilt. FARMHOUSE is to be upgraded possibly utilising a Housing Grant

from Perth and Kinross Council. THE ‘MANSE’ is to be upgraded possibly either utilising a Housing

Grant from Perth and Kinross Council, or a Communities Scotland ‘Rural Empty Properties Grant’.

BUILDING PLOTS. Phase 1. Subject to Planning Consent, four building plots are proposed. These would not be sold on the open market, but to people whose employment is in whole or part at Tombreck or who wish to invest in some way in the farm, Following discussions with Perth & Kinross Council Planning Department, and working within the guidelines of the Perthshire Highland Area Local Plan, two possible locations for building plots have been identified. The first is to continue or extend the grouping and line of the existing buildings, and here are three plots, numbers 1 & 2 to the west of the brewery, and number 3 to the south of the yard. A site for a building plot within the roadside wood has also been selected.  BUILDING PLOTS. Phase 2. Once all the above developments are in place, it is hoped that subject to Planning Consent, other plots elsewhere on the farm may be possible. For future developments, a Housing Association or a Cooperative

could be created. 

 

Infrastructure Proposals

LAND DRAINS. Most of these need re­digging, and a tracked digger has been purchased for this task.

WATER SUPPLY. The water supply for all the existing and proposed developments comes from the Tombreck burn. This is a good clean water supply that has never been known to dry up. However in order to achieve a sufficient flow rate, a header tank sited high up the hill and approximately one kilometre of associated pipe work is needed. Meanwhile a small dam has been constructed above the road to improve the water supply storage system as a temporary measure.

WASTE UTILISATION / DISPOSAL. A feasibility study indicated that a communal reed bed system incorporating both primary and secondary systems would be the most effective and cost efficient solution. FENCING. This project is largely complete although on­going maintenance will be required. TRACK / FARMYARD. Ongoing repair and maintenance required. FARMTRACKS. Old ones will require to be brought back into use and new ones created. A route for the track to the Manse, which incorporates the embankment of a small pond, has been proposed.

ELECTRICITY. Quotes are being obtained for the supply of  electricity to all sites and for the removal of some or all of the electricity and telephone posts.  RENEWABLE ENERGY. A feasibility study is proposed to research

into the various options for Tombreck. This will be carried out with the assistance of the Scottish Community Renewables Initiative.