The Venison Story

One of the Powerdown Objectives for Knoydart was to look at ways of reducing food miles. Our major project on this has been the development of the community garden which is enabling members of the community to grow their own vegetables, reducing hugely the ‘import’ of food.  Another project has been to look at how we can retain more venison within Knoydart. 

Deer management is an integral part of our land management strategy, keeping the herd healthy and sustainable and reducing grazing pressure.  We do this in a very low impact way, using ponies and our new electric quad alongside more traditional fourwheel drive vehicles where necessary. Our deer larder is powered by renewable energy.  However we currently have to ‘ship out’ about 75% of our carcasses by sea and road.  On the other hand, we see food coming in  boxes every week to feed the community and its many visitors. 

To make a start at tackling this specific contribution to food miles we have held two events, one last year to look at all of the food regulations to do with developing a butchery facility.  This year we put on a butchery skills course for members of the community and Foundation staff. The butchery course taught us how to use the whole of the deer carcass to create cuts, mince, and sausages, enabling community members to buy a whole or half carcass and process it for their freezer.  This not only reduced food miles ‘going out’ i.e. the shipping of deer carcasses by sea but reduced food miles ‘coming in’ i.e. buying meat products produced elsewhere. And we don’t even need to feel guilty about keeping stuff in the freezer as our electricity all comes from the community owned hydro!

There have already been dinner parties in Knoydart featuring home-made venison sausages with potatoes and veg from the garden!  The Foundation, through its subsidiary group Knoydart Trading Ltd is continuing to work towards doing more processing here in Knoydart, with plans being drawn up for larder improvements to enable us to do that to a greater extent than our facilities currently allow.