Scotland’s agricultural charity, RHASS (Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland), which runs The Royal Highland Show, is calling on the people of Scotland and beyond to share their agricultural and rural stories from across the decades in recognition of its 240th anniversary.

Over the next 12 months, the 240 Years of Stories initiative hopes to bring to life a rich tapestry of tales that relay people’s experiences of rural life, connections and pivotal moments within the agricultural community to celebrate the past, present and future of one of Scotland’s leading industries.

The Scottish Farmer: Left to right - Hamish, Elinor, Willie, James and AnnaLeft to right - Hamish, Elinor, Willie, James and Anna

From memories of farming traditions that have evolved from the use of horse and cart to machinery, to reflections of farmland being handed down to sons and daughters, to relaying fantastical stories of wins, losses and experiences of attending Scotland’s leading agriculture show, the Royal Highland Show, RHASS is keen to hear from anyone who has a connection to the agriculture or rural community and charity.

One such story that has already been shared with RHASS, is that of James Logan, who lives at Athelstaneford Mains near North Berwick, farming arable and potatoes.

James is a third-generation farmer who was born in 1965. He took over the farm from his father, Willie Logan, in 1990, and developed it from a mixed farm which his grandfather, John, started in 1931, to what it is known for today.

The Scottish Farmer: Potatoes are a feature at Athelstaneford MainsPotatoes are a feature at Athelstaneford Mains

James’ father Willie is now 92 and lives just seven miles away at Samuelston South Mains. Willie’s own story of living and farming through the years features on the OnRecord – Memories of Rural Life, from the makers of the OnFarm podcast who are a partner of the 240 Years of Stories initiative.

Like his dad who was a director with RHASS, James too has been a Director for RHASS for several years. James will also take on the mantle as chairman of RHASS in the summer, where he will help lead the strategy of the organisation for the next two years.

James lives at Athelstaneford Mains with his wife, Elinor. Elinor started The Veg Shed, a veg shop with a difference which was started to diversify the farm by offering fresh potatoes, eggs and vegetables from a vending machine.

The Scottish Farmer: James Logan is a third generation farmerJames Logan is a third generation farmer

He said: “Being born on the farm, and having come from a line of farmers, you could say I was always destined to become a farmer. While I toyed with other occupations, my love of the countryside and admiration of what my father did within farming prevailed and after studying agriculture at university, I knew that farming was the right path for me.

“Unlike my father who had and continues to have a great eye for cattle, when I took over the farm, I knew I wanted to run it differently. My dad was very supportive of me changing the format of the farm to focus on potatoes and arable. We worked together for many years before his semi-retirement developing our crops and the business, so we have lots of fond memories of the highs and lows of running the business.

The Scottish Farmer: Willie Logan farmed from 1953, when his father died, to 1990, when his son James took over.Willie Logan farmed from 1953, when his father died, to 1990, when his son James took over.

“The way I view the future of the farm is that I’m the custodian of my land for a very short while. I have a son and a daughter, who may or may not take over one day, and so I’ve really encouraged them to find their own path to discover what their future looks like. My son, Hamish, studied agriculture too and is currently a food and farming consultant for Savills. He is involved in the young farmers community like I was.

“My daughter, Anna, has just become a Chartered Accountant, so while neither of them are currently working on the farm full time, they are part of our succession plan. When they takeover, then they will be armed with a broad range of life skills and know-how that will only help to contribute towards future-proofing the land.

“There are so many other similar stories out there which stretch across generations in how farmland has evolved, the positive impact people have made to the industry and how the use of land has changed to support the future food or supply requirements of wider society. I hope that others come forward to share their tales and help to create a bank of stories that can be preserved for years to come.”

The Scottish Farmer: Athelstaneford Mains near North Berwick, has changed significantly over the yearsAthelstaneford Mains near North Berwick, has changed significantly over the years

Commenting on his upcoming Chairman appointment, which James will take on this summer, he said: “I’ve worked closely with RHASS for the last seven years as a director and Honorary Secretary, so it’s an honour to be taking on the mantle as chairman to help support the direction of the charity over the coming two years, especially during their anniversary year.

“It will be fantastic to be working even more closely with the team in helping guide activity around the rural economy, the bursaries and grants the charity offers and what more we can do to support local agricultural shows which is the starting point for those competitors who join us at the Royal Highland Show every June.”

Willie Logan farmed from 1953, when his father died, to 1990 when James took over. He said: “My memories of farming stem back to when horsepower helped plough the fields and when we used hessian sacks which belonged to the railway company to store and transport stock across the country. I even remember picking turnip crops in the winter with my bare hands and having to warm them up under the tap to be able to eat my lunch!

“While my passion was cattle, my father was a great Clydesdale man and bred and showed horses around the country.

“I have lived and breathed farming my entire life, even meeting my wife at the Royal Highland Show in Aberdeen when it used to tour the country, and I have many stories and tales, or some might say words of wisdom, to tell. I’m so delighted that RHASS is capturing these personal stories for the wider community and future generations to enjoy.”

Hamish Logan, James’ son, 27, studied agriculture at Harper Adams University and is a food and farming consultant for Savills. He said: “After university, my plan was always to work away from the farm for a while so that I could experience working for other companies and learn from other business leaders.

“What’s great about my current role is that I get to blend the world of work and business with farming. I get to experience being in an office and being out and about in rural settings and visiting farms to learn more about how they’re managed.

“In the future, I would like to think that I could continue the success that my dad and grandpa have had on our farm. I’m not sure how that looks right now, but being able to continue building the business into the future is a wonderful ambition to aim for.”

The society’s involvement in supporting both the agricultural and wider community of Scotland stretches from providing financial aid for a newly invented plough to help manage Highland farmland in the late 1700s, to helping to improve milk supply in the early 1900s and leading The Scottish Red Cross Agriculture Fund during the war.

Throughout its history it has been committed to rewarding excellence and innovation within the sector through awards and grants. It has also supported The Argyll Naval Fund to support boys who had succeeded in gaining a reserved place in the Royal Navy in the 1800s and for 70 years, the society worked with the Scottish Government to support the health and wellbeing of the residents of St Kilda.

It is hoped that the stories shared as part of 240 Years of Stories will help RHASS connect the stories it receives to its enduring support and commitment to the industry over the past two centuries.

RHASS chief executive, Alan Laidlaw, added: “RHASS was formed two hundred and forty years ago and while the organisation has evolved tremendously since then, the very reason RHASS continues to exist today hasn’t changed; and that is to champion agriculture and support those who live and work within it. It’s those who have a connection with the sector and industry that we’d love to hear from.

“Whether you were brought up on a farm, have family who own a farm or have historic tales of generations gone by who worked within the sector and contributed in some way to the industry, we’d love to hear your stories. In gathering tales old and new, we can help preserve these stories so that two hundred and forty years from now, future generations can learn and enjoy what has gone before them.”