Field to ForkScotland’s Natural Larder’s ‘Field to Fork’ project, connecting wildlife managers and the food industry, was launched at the Royal Highland Show. The event was attended by the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Dr Aileen McLeod. Students from SRUC Elmwood Campus demonstrated game preparation and cookery skills as part of the launch. The public were able to watch gamekeeping students plucking and packing game birds while catering students cooked alongside professional chef Mark Heirs.

‘Field to Fork’ is a Scotland’s Natural Larder project with partners Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and Scotland’s Rural University College (SRUC) Elmwood Campus and is piloting between 2015 (The Year of Food and Drink) and 2018 (The Year of Young People). As part of their course, gamekeeping students learn basic food hygiene and preparation skills while catering students learn about the local, nutritional opportunities from the products of wildlife management and the journey of game from field to fork.

The Elmwood Campus departments will work together to source produce, develop products and recipes and market research the opportunities for small scale production of local food. In doing so they will add value to game meat and learn about wildlife management. As part of the project, the students will take game that they have prepared to a local farmers market to undertake market research and catering students from Elmwood Campus, Borders College and Thurso College will compete to produce a prize-winning dish. At a ‘Celebration of Game’ dinner held during British Game Week in November the winning dish from the winning college will be announced.

BASC’s Donald Muir said, ‘Game meat is healthy, sustainable and delicious. We are delighted to work with the colleges to promote game meat and to communicate the accompanying wildlife management messages.’

Jim Goodlad, Gamekeeping Lecturer at SRUC Elmwood Campus said,‘Through this project our gamekeeping students are working alongside catering students and adding value by using meat hygiene and game preparation skills. The demonstrations will hopefully encourage people to try game and to understand where it comes from.’

Pete Moore from SNH said,‘This is about making sure that gamekeepers and wildlife managers understand that some of the products of their work go into the food chain and there are responsibilities associated with the inspection and handling. There is also recognition of the considerable economic benefits of small scale processing. The Elmwood Campus departments will be considering the added-value opportunities and developing and marketing these products. We look forward to seeing the links made between the wildlife management and food sectors in this project.’

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