Our story

The idea for the Green Bowl was hatched during hours of working together in the Elphin Tearooms in 2018 and 2019. We were both already selling meat directly to customers locally and there were already quite a few very proficient veg growers in the village. Crofting used to be about growing food to feed your community, and the land here is still capable of doing that. We wanted to showcase how much food a small crofting village could produce, and to make that food available to the wider community as well as visitors.

We are all small producers though so getting food to customers, including marketing, delivering and dealing with admin, can be too much burden for each person individually. Crofting survives (and thrives) on communal activities and teamwork, so it is fitting to harness that same ethos to help us sell food. By working together, we could have one common identity, branding and contact point, as well as sharing delivery costs. It also works well for our customers, because we can be a one-stop-shop with everything in one place.

So… we had a concept, but it was a long way from reality still. It took over a year to settle on a name (there were many considered but nothing worked until we came up with The Green Bowl, and once we had it, we knew it was right!) and even after that, it took a global pandemic to really kickstart the business.

We had started a small farmshop in The Elphin Tearooms, mostly local meat, with a few non-perishable items from further afield in the North Highlands. We had both increased our production to cater for the increased demand and, when the Tearooms was closed due to covid, we then had lots of supply, but suddenly no outlet.

With lots on online webinars about local food and moving businesses online, we learned about the Open Food Network and saw a way forward to help our own businesses, other producers in our village and the people in our wider community. We started weekly deliveries, with locally produced bread, eggs, meat and a small range of salad.

Since then, we’ve slowly increased our supply, with some new producers, a lot more veg being grown, and we now have local venison available as well. We’ve increased our customer base, but are proud to still have many of our original customers from the first week that we launched.

We’ve appeared on Landward, run an online course for the Scottish Crofting Federation, held a knowledge transfer open day with the Nature Friendly Farming Network, and we’ve recently hosted a celebration of local food in collaboration with the Highland Good Food Partnership and the Highlands and Islands Climate Hub.

We’re keen to get the word out about local food – not just telling more people where they can buy it, but also helping others to produce more and set up their own local food initiatives, in whatever form they may take.

In 2022 we received grant funding from the Regional Food Fund for marketing materials, extended deliveries, additional open days and to kit out our farmshop, with the aim of making local food available to more people, and to help others produce and sell more of their own local food.

We were delighted to finally have a logo (which, like the name, took a lot of trial and error, but once we had it right, we just knew it!) and some beautiful farmshop shelving and signage. The funding also helped us to produce this website, and to produce business marketing material, making it easier for us to share information about what we are doing.

We hope to continue growing – both the quantity of food we can produce, and the number of people we supply to. We’re also looking forward to seeing lots of other local food initiatives starting up in the Highlands and Islands and we’ll do whatever we can to help them.

Why do we do this?

We love being crofters and gardeners. We love keeping livestock, working the land and coaxing delicious, nutritious food out of this harsh and difficult climate and terrain.

We love food! All of us love eating good food and really notice the difference between the food at the end of long supermarket supply chains and what we can grow ourselves. We grow food so we can appreciate this difference ourselves, but we also want others in our community to be able to enjoy what we grow.

We believe that, as a crofting area, we should be able to produce a lot of food. We want to showcase what a crofting township can produce and inspire others to produce more too.

Working together makes us more resilient, more efficient and helps us to provide a better service to our customers. We can do more together than we would be able to achieve individually.