Environment and Land Statement

Knockengorroch aerial view

Knockengorroch CIC recognises we are part of a wider living organism, our Earth, and that all actions that negatively impact the planet ultimately also impact human life. We actively provide opportunities for people to experience connection with the land, in the belief that this furthers feelings of responsibility for the Earth.

The Knockengorroch site is situated within a very rural, unique upland location, with a specific ecosystem, changed by human activities in various ways across the years. We strive to engage and educate our communities in preserving and increasing biodiversity and understanding of the area. This includes the cultural history of the site. As archaeological remains show, the area has been settled for many hundreds of years. We believe that understanding how humans lived in and around Knockengorroch in the past is part of understanding our relationship with the land and how we can engage with it now and into the future.

The Holmes family have lived at Knockengorroch for over 50 years and have an extensive understanding of the land that only living on it 365 days a year can provide. Protecting the landscape is a core priority and the festival provides an opportunity to promote this priority and engage people in the upland environment, to teach, learn and inspire each other.

What We Do

Learning from the Land

At the festival we:

  • Build stages and structures from natural locally sourced materials wherever possible. All permanent festival structures, for example, feature turf roofs.
  • Promote our Longhouse venue, a re-imagined building on a site where many similar structures would have stood in the past – built using traditional, sustainable, local materials and techniques.
  • Teach children, and adults, about the local ecosystem through activities such as pond dipping and mud face painting.
  • Invite practitioners such as Dark Skies Ranger to educate and inspire festival goers about the stars – Knockengorroch is situated on an UNESCO designated Dark Sky Park.
  • Feature talks on the local landscape such as the Green Well of Scotland, to educate visitors about environmental and heritage features of the area
  • Invite further national and international environmental organisations such as Greenpeace to run free stalls, with the aim to teach and learn from each other.
  • Invite local organic food producers to the festival to share their produce.
  • Name venues after heritage or environmental features of the site e.g. the ‘Shieling Tent’ and ‘Maddies’ (a common place name in the area)
  • Regularly and wherever possible featuring aspects of the landscape in festival themes eg ‘River Creatures’
  • Highlight heritage aspects of the site, eg how previous residents used to farm ‘heritage’ grains in a ‘rig and furrow’ method.
  • Actively seek to programme artists that incorporate an understanding of ‘belonging to land’. For example: 2024 sees the first Sámi featured artist – indigenous peoples from northern Europe for whom belonging to land is a central part of their beliefs.

Reducing Waste and Emissions

We abide by all conventions to reduce waste and carbon emissions as much as we can.

We do this by:

  • Not using single use plastics in our activities, and asking our traders and caterers not to either.
  • Keeping printed material to a minimum, and where material is printed, using recycled paper.
  • Providing the option of compost toilets on site, and working each year to increase this provision.
  • Providing recycling facilities where possible.

And:

  • Providing affordable public transport directly to site (the “Knock Bus”) and strongly incentivising lift sharing to reduce the number of cars driving to site.
  • Encouraging people to leave their car at home by weighting ticket prices in favour of pedestrian tickets, with vehicle tickets costing proportionally more.
  • Providing ‘off site’ parking facilities and offering shuttle buses to site to reduce the number of vehicles that travel on our small roads onto the unique upland site.

Dedicated organic food growing community venue

In 2023, we introduced a new polytunnel organic food growing venue. The Discee Centre for Food, Art and Learning demonstrates how new technology, in the form of a storm-proof polytunnel, can be used to sustain food growing in an upland location. The Discee engages community groups throughout the year and disperses produce across the local community come harvest time. During the festival the polytunnel venue acts as a low key venue, staging local talks and demonstrations from local environmental, local heritage and food producing organisations.

Local partnerships

Knockengorroch is a proud supporter of the UNESCO designated Galloway and Southern Ayrshire biosphere. Biosphere reserves are ‘learning places for sustainable development’. They are sites for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

Languages Plan

Knockengorroch has its own languages plan, which lays out our commitment to furthering understanding and practice of previous languages of our area – Gaelic and Scots. Gaining these language skills provides insights into place names and therefore features of the landscape, which unlocks knowledge of the land held by those that came before us.

We take a holistic view of our relationship with our environment and see ourselves in a continuum of relationship with the land. We invite all who engage with Knockengorroch to do so too.

We are committed to continuing with the activities described above and seeking out further opportunities for those we engage with to experience connection with the land.

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