The Sinclair’s have been involved in agriculture in the Edinburgh area for over 200 years. John’s great grandfather, George Sinclair came to Dalmany in 1892 as Lord Rosebery’s farm manager. When he died his son Jack continued as the manager until 1952. George, Jacks father, was offered a tenancy at the very young age of 18 by the present Lord Rosebery. His first farm was on the outskirts of South Queensferry so after 10 years most of the land was taken for building. In 1966 the Sinclair’s moved to West Craigie with their dairy cows! George sold the milk direct to cafes in Edinburgh. Pasteurisation stopped that so potatoes were the next to be retailed. We were always aware of the huge market on our doorstep so in the late 80’s we opened our little farm shop and started growing soft fruit. We had a very large limited range of goods and weren't too reliable with our opening times! In the 90’s our little farm shop started to become the “local” for customers to collect their fresh fruit and vegetables and our ever increasing jam ranges. This resulted in us converting a barn into a bigger shop but it was only open for 6 months of the year. Sadly father George died in 1995, but John has continued to “grow the seed” planted by his efforts and energies. Our present farm shop and cafe were built in 2006 and opened in the summer of 2007. Two years later it was doubled in size, adding a buttery and an extended dining area.
West Craigie is an arable farm of 264 acres and we grow more than just soft fruit. The biggest area is in cereals. Wheat is sold for milling or animal feed. We keep a small amount of the straw for our strawberry beds or animal bedding and the rest will go to a local stock farmer. We also grow spring barley which is sold to make whiskey. Potatoes are also grown as a break crop and for selling in the shop. 20 acres of the farm is dedicated to growing soft fruit, of which some are in tunnels to protect the crop. We have strawberries, raspberries, tayberries, blueberries and blackberries. Our newest addition is cherry trees. Having the tunnels allows us to extend the season. All the other fruits are outdoors and they include redcurrants, blackcurrants and gooseberries a long established plum and greengage orchard. More and more vegetables are being grown, beans, peas, cabbage, beetroot, squashes of all shapes and sizes. Last autumn we had a pumpkin festival and intend to develop this. Every year some ground is left to fallow to rest it from intensive farming. Furthermore it gives birds good nesting sites and insects safe habitats.
We thought it would be a great idea to allow young children to grow their own fruit and vegetables and learn how a farm works, but not in the usual textbook manner. Here at Craigie’s we have built allotments for the local school children where our farm manager teaches them the basics of agriculture. We have also have farmed a farm club in conjunction with the Royal Highland Education Trust. Although Craigie’s is no longer a livestock farm we have established a flock of hens and young George looks after the pigs and piglets. We borrow sheep and in the spring time lambs for bottle feeding. There are also horses ponies to see.
Also on the farm is our very own Jam Kitchen. The Sinclair’s have been producing jam since the mid 80’s. We have a wide range of jams, chutneys, Fruit vinegars, and jellies all made from our own fruit which we freeze for winter use. These are sold in the shop and also sold in wholesale to other farm shops and garden centres around Scotland.
Farm Shop and Cafe
Our cafe has seating for 200 people inside and out. The cosy corner was added in 2009 and it is a relaxing dining area with comfy couches and it has amazing views over the Pentlands Hills and the River Forth. This area can also be used for small functions and events with French doors leading onto the decking. The shop is filled with local produce fresh from the farm and other local suppliers. You will find more and more tasty products coming direct from the fields to our shelves these days. We have specially selected hampers made to order and available all year round so every present is sorted. All you have to do is ask for details!
9am – 5pm 7 days a week.