COMMEMORATING the centenary of the First World War will be a focus of an exhibition by the The Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland at this year's show. This follows on from exhibitions, staged with support from partners over the past two years, which have shown the effect World War I had on Scottish agriculture.

This year marks one hundred years since the Women’s Land Army (WLA) was founded, in response to an acute labour shortage on farms due to the huge numbers of men conscripted into the armed forces. There was also an increased need to grow more food as a result of the U-boat blockade.

The 2017 exhibit within the Countryside Cottage at the show will focus on the formation of the WLA, tracing its origins, as well as its links with allotments, the WRI and other organisations. The exhibition will explore the role of women on farms in 1917 and how they dealt with unfamiliar machinery, equipment and livestock. There will also be examples of the types of clothes and workwear they wore and knitted, such as Balaclavas, socks and mitts.

The exhibit will look at other jobs carried out by women in 1917, including in forestry, munitions and engineering, and how the WLA changed women’s role in agricultural research, managerial positions, advisory services and farming. The success of the Women’s Land Army led to its continued deployment in the Second

World War and contribution to the war effort. A short film for visitors outlines this agricultural history, as well as aspects of food production, rationing, suffragettes and bondagers.

Visitors can also see an area of cereal varieties and turnips grown on farms in 1917, established for the Show by Oatridge Campus working with staff from Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture. Raised beds of Scottish Kale represent Scotland’s oldest vegetable –grown in the Shetland Isles since the 17thcentury, whose inner leaves fed humans and whose outer leaves acted as winter feed for cattle and sheep.

A garden plot beyond the cottages will contain vegetable and potato varieties grown a century ago, many of which are still grown today as they suit the Scottish climate. Farm machinery and equipment from the early part of the 20th century will also be on display, with information boards created by pupils from Greyfriars RC Primary School in St Andrews. Stonemason trainees from Edinburgh’s St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral will try to recreate the carving of stone items used in agriculture at that time, such as supporting staddle stones, stone troughs and millstones. The overall aim of the exhibit is to create a vivid impression of the many challenges women faced at the time and act as a tribute to Scotland’s women in agriculture.