A NEW campaign to encourage city dwellers to get out into the countryside and spend time on Scottish farms and crofts was launched this week.

The Go Rural campaign – delivered by Scottish Agritourism – is urging urban residents to buy food and drink direct from a farmer, visit a farm for the day or book an overnight break or holiday, whilst also sharing important messages around responsible tourism.

The campaign will kick off in Dundee, and then focus on a different town or city thereafter, featuring a range of activities including live tours on social media, blogs, guides featuring the nearest Go Rural farms to pay a visit and sample their farm produce. A series of podcasts and videos will capture the stories of different farmers across Scotland and a number of social media influencers and journalists will also visit different locations.

Scottish Agritourism members are being encouraged to host events on farm over the Easter break, with many planning spring farm tours to complement another two weeks of the very popular 'Lambathon' live on social media in April, which will form part of the overall campaign.

Sector Lead for Scottish Agritourism, Caroline Millar, commented: “83% of Scotland’s population lives in 2% of Scotland’s land, in urban areas. Farmers are not only keen to welcome urban residents to visit the countryside, but to buy food and drink direct from a farmer and to have the opportunity to be able to have those on farm discussions about how Scotland’s food and drink is produced, and what farmers do to look after the environment and landscape.

"Visiting a farm and providing access to green space is hugely beneficial to a person’s mental and physical wellbeing," said Ms Millar. "We do however have a responsibility as an organisation encouraging thousands of people to visit the countryside to explain the importance of how to leave only footprints and how to act responsibly for the safety of farm animals, wildlife, and people. Conversations about responsible tourism will be a key focus of the campaign, delivered in a way which will inform and build relationships.”

The Go Rural campaign also has the backing of a number of MPs and MSPs and local councillors who see the benefits of building relationships between urban and rural Scotland.

Chris Law MP for Dundee West, commented: “In Scotland we are incredibly lucky to have some of the world’s freshest and finest locally produced food and drink right here on our doorstep. Go Rural is an exciting initiative which I hope will give people in our towns and cities the opportunity to learn more about where this food and drink comes from, as well as introduce them to the rural communities who work so hard to produce it. I would encourage everyone in our towns and cities to 'Go Rural' and visit their local participating farm or croft.”

Dave Dugan MP for Angus, added: “Go Rural is an outstanding initiative from our farming sector in Scotland and demonstrates that farmers are constantly diversifying into broader markets. With Go Rural, we have a wonderful opportunity to spend time on farm getting closer to the sources of Scotland outstanding food production and the people who make the magic happen. No matter where you are in Scotland there is now every reason to Go Rural and enjoy getting closer than ever to Scottish Farming.”