Marcassie Farm is a family owned organic small holding nestled in the fertile plains of the Laich of Moray in north east Scotland.
The farm consists of 18 acres of arable land, 5 acres of grounds and gardens surrounding a large farmhouse and steading and a separate 12 acres of mature woodland. Betsy, Sven and Braga grow vegetables, fruit and herbs and have small flocks of laying hens and Gotland x Shetland sheep.
We love being here on the farm because its so easy to be present with nature. Naturally Useful could never find a good home on an industrial estate!
Karen takes Lara (the dog) for walks every day through the fields to find inspiration when she’s stuck or to clear her head ready to work. The fields are surrounded by hedgerows. These wildlife corridors not only bring much life to the farm and boost up the biodiversity but they also provide most of the non-willow material that we weave into the baskets, coffins and urns. The hedgerows are heavy with hazel, sloes, blackcurrants, wild rose and hawthorn. All through the year there is something on offer from this land.
In the summer months, Betsy and Sven also offer simple self-catering accommodation through a mixture of cabins, huts and caravans, ideal for families or groups or also for singles or couples on retreat. Whilst there are lots of good people down here, we’ve each got our own patch of the farm so it never feels busy or crowed. There is a very tangible sense of peace here.
If you’re coming over for a course, it’s well worth making time to have an explore around the area.
To our mind, there is something for everyone; we have mountains, woodland and moorland, rivers, estuaries and the sea. We live under the blessed rain shadow; Forres is bound on 3 sides by mountains so the clouds empty their rain onto the uplands and for the most part we stay dry.
Moray is on the narrowest part of Scotland so should you want to, you can get from east to west very quickly. It’s worth bearing in mind that (thankfully) the famous Scottish midges seem to much prefer the west coast than our east coast!
Nature is very present here. The population of us two-leggeds is low so there is plenty of room for the animal and plant kingdoms to stretch their wings, hooves and roots.
There are deer aplenty with roe down with us in the lowlands and red up on the hills. Rutting season for the red’s in the Autumn is a sight (and sound!) to behold.
We are blessed by a bunch of migratory birds; waxwings, redwings, geese, swallows and swifts are just the tip of the ice burg. Wetland and estuary birds are a treat with curlews, herons, oystercatchers and sand pipers being some of our favourites. If bird watching takes your fancy, there are plenty of bird hides and feeding stations dotted around.
Take a little wander around the old fishing village of Findhorn and you’ll easily spot the grey seals out on the sand bar. A little further along the coast east or west you can catch sight of dolphins (even sometimes at Findhorn!).
A friend of Naturally Useful, Dan Puplett, offers a wide variety of guided walks, identification, bushcraft and wildlife tracking courses that will help you get to know the non-human life of Moray.
It’s whiskey country here thanks to the fresh peaty waters and so there are many distilleries to tour. Luckily, Karen’s favourite whisky (a nice oaky number) is made a short walk from my front door at the Benromach Distillery in Forres.
The land up here is full of old stories of fisher quines down on the docks, and historical stories of witches being rolled down hills in spiked barrels.
If you’re interested in communal living and eco-housing then The Findhorn Foundation, an internationally renowned eco-village, tucked between Kinloss and Findhorn Village.
There are plenty of cycle routes for two-wheel fans with a good mixture of well-maintained cycle paths (including the first one in the whole of the UK!) and great mountain bike trails.
We do hope you have some times to adventure around these parts. Karen thinks it’s so good that, even when she tried to leave it (going to New Zealand), she had to come back because she missed it so much!