The first CTMG project was to create a 3 week long annual Festival of Spring to celebrate the island’s exceptional natural beauty, history and wealth of wild life.
They helped to gathered together a range of experts to deliver a variety of events over the 3 weeks, with ancillary events including foraging for and cooking wild food, historical and archaeological talks, art and craft workshops, farming walks, wine tasting, bread and cake baking and a Golf tournament! Genuinely something for everyone.
Spring is, of course, the richest time for nature with migrating birds returning to breed and the burgeoning of plant life; guided walks and talks are given by local experts and the local RSPB representative from Oronsay.
Long term island resident Kevin Byrne, an expert on local History and Archaeology conducts guided walks and well-known food foragers are asked each year to forage for seaweed, shellfish and wild salads which are collected and eaten. David Hobhouse, another resident, conducts farm and nature walks. Jane Howard, from Colonsay Estate, gives guided walks around the historic and botanically important 20 acre Colonsay Gardens. All of the volunteers give their time for free.
The Estate supports the Spring Festival in many ways: most CTMG meetings are held in the Howard’s kitchen. They provide venues for free throughout the festival, from kitchens and workshops to garden spaces. They also accommodate a number of visiting experts in their self-catering properties at no charge.
The CTMG is bringing huge numbers of new visitors to Colonsay at what had been a difficult time to fill accommodation, and now most operators are full in early May. It is truly a community effort and has brought together a group of islanders, to work hard in a collaborative way to achieve a successful outcome with an economic benefit to all island businesses. It couldn’t happen without the hard work of the CTMG members and the provision of venues and accommodation by the Estate; it is a true collaboration that has resulted in wider benefits than just the economic ones, and it is a project that the Estate is very much a part of.