Crofting And Community

The Island Calendar #02: Richard Maclennan from Isle of Harris Distillery on Vimeo.

The system of smallhold farming known as crofting’, is unique to the islands and highlands of Scotland, and plays a central role in the stewardship of these lands, while reinforcing the ties which bind our local communities together.

It is a far from profitable way of life, and its adherents must often work other jobs to make ends meet. But the traditions surrounding this culture repay them in other, more rewarding ways.

The practice helps underpin the bonds between our communities, whether it’s through sharing of knowledge, communal gatherings at fanks or the collaboration required from each village’s “grazing committees”.


As a new distillery we admire the history and ethos behind crofting. Indeed, being a ‘Croft Distillery” is something we aspire to, our team always striving to work together for the betterment of our ambitions. 

These ambitions are also shared by other collaborative endeavours like the West Harris Trust, a community charity responsible for managing 7225 hectares of land on the west side of Harris.

There are crofters involved there also, including director Richard Maclennan from Borve who juggles his crofting work with the demands of the trust, other community organisations and his role as a volunteer fireman.


Alongside a talented team of local people, he and the trust are busy developing local housing, renewable energy schemes and tourism opportunities from their base at the beautiful Talla Na Mara.

Like us, they aim to address the pressing issues of population decline and revitalising our fragile island economy.

It’s people like Richard who make our island what it is, the multi-tasking men and women with the future of the Isle of Harris at the heart of almost everything they do.

Together, we are all working hard, hoping to make historic changes for our island, creating successes far greater than the sum of our individual parts.

Our thanks to Richard Maclennan.

Music by Iain Morrison.

Film by Kenny Stewart.

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