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Project will harness porridge power

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Project will harness porridge power

A DUMFRIES and Galloway-based research project has been awarded funding to help secondary school students understand and harness the power of the humble porridge oat.

Propagate Scotland has received £5000 to involve young people from secondary schools in this region, as well as East Renfrewshire, through their Home Economics departments, working with local organic farmers.

The pupils will have opportunities to get out on farms and learn about healthy soils, and how this relates to growing healthier crops. They will be involved in the growing and harvesting of the oats through hands-on activities.

The project – dubbed Porridge Power – aims to join the dots between healthy soils, growing nutrient dense and healthy food, food processing, cooking skills, healthier eating, food enterprise and local supply chains. Harvested oats will be donated to the schools, which will then organise the milling of the oats. They will use the finished product in cooking skills workshops and will be supported to market and retail their products.

Abi Mordin, from Propagate, said: “We’re really excited to have been awarded funding to kickstart this project. We’ll be working with young people and farmers to celebrate the power of porridge.

“Oat production used to be widespread in Scotland but has been replaced by primarily livestock and dairy production. We want to explore and celebrate mixed and diverse farming systems and involve young people in not just the production of oats but looking at innovative and new products which can be made and marketed locally. This systems approach ticks every box – ecological food production, involving people and communities, healthy food and local supply chains.”

The money comes from Healthy Planet, Healthy People and the research is supported by RSE.

Vice president Professor Anne Anderson OBE FRSE, above, said: “This is the first time that the RSE has supported this type of research, as the Society broadens its range of research awards, and I feel that it is vital that we do so.

“The health of the individual and the health of the environment are inextricably linked, and it is my hope that these awards will now provide a boost to these exciting research groups which will lead to improvements in both. I very much look forward to following their progress and achievements over the next 12 months.”

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