21st Century Crofting: Strengths and Opportunities for Community Development
Keywords:Community Development, Crofting, Farming Systems, Scotland
AbstractScotland has one of the most uneven land ownership patterns in the world. In a country of 5.2 million people, about 969 people control 60% of the land. Over 20% of privately owned land in Scotland is held in some form of offshore or beneficial ownership (Committee on the Inquiry of Crofting, 2008). This land ownership pattern has a unique expression in the northern and western parts of the Scottish Highlands and Islands with a 300-year-old system of tenant farmers known as crofters. Unlike other tenant farmers across the world, crofters have gained legal rights to stay on the land if they are productive. While crofting has managed to survive, there are competing resources for land in rural Scotland; urbanites from England and Glasgow view rural Scotland as sites for holiday homes, thus raising land prices. Further, as with other places around the world, market forces in Scotland are merging small parcels of land into larger tracts for agriculture. This qualitative case study examines crofting on an island off the western coast of Scotland. Our primary research question is: Is there a sense of solidarity among residents about crofting for the island's economic vitality and its role in sustaining or preserving local culture?
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