IT STARTED WITH A HOLIDAY
In 1980, our family — Jeff and Christine "Chris" Reade; and sons Brendan, Matthew, Garth and Joe — moved to the Isle of Mull from our dairy farm in Somerset, England.
This decision was motivated by three key factors — a challenging dairy farming market due to European milk imports; an opportunity to provide consistent milk supply to the people of Mull; and our abiding love for this storied corner of Scotland.
Following our first holiday here in 1979, we bought a few acres in Tobermory, and around the same time we noticed that the dilapidated farm nearby — Sgriob-ruadh — was up for sale. Following the purchase, the move from Somerset to our new Mull home would ultimately take 2 years to complete, with frequent trips up and down the motorway in our wee red lorry.
In that time, with nothing but old sheds and green fields to work with, we got to work making Sgriob-ruadh a habitable home for our family, livestock and business.
THE REST IS HISTORY
The four Reade sons were all aged between 11 and 18 at the time of the move to Mull, and each of them played a massive part in making it happen.
Our eldest, Brendan, did most of the drives on his own, gradually moving the Somerset farm up to this remote part of Scotland. Matthew and Garth brought 10 cows up to Sgriob-ruadh and began a local milk round in Tobermory, which gradually expanded. This was one of the first projects to get up and running on our new farm and it quickly found success.
We began making cheese with any excess milk produced by the farm — initially maturing it in the local whisky bond store, before purpose-built maturing cellars were established at Sgriob-ruadh. Initially made in a converted cow byre, this cheese-making enterprise would ultimately grow into our core family business.
By 2000, the demand for Isle of Mull cheese far outweighed the demand for our milk, so our decision was relatively simple. We stopped selling milk in 2000 and built a cheese-making dairy on the farm.
The Glass Barn was erected in 1995, using recycled materials from an old village hall — initially built as a place to grow plants, but since converted into a farm shop and café space for visitors to enjoy.
We have had, and continue to have, a hard working and very happy and satisfying life at Sgriob-ruadh. Jeff dreamed of a sustainable farm — doing things better as the years go on, and creating a life that will continue into the future. We can see it already happening, with some of our 10 grandchildren actively continuing the tradition of farming life at Sgriob-ruadh.
— Chris Reade
"Jeff dreamed of a sustainable farm — doing things better as the years go on, and creating a life here that will continue into the future."
OUR GROWING FAMILY
Sgriob-ruadh farm is now owned and run by the eldest Reade son Brendan, his wife Shelagh and third Reade son Garth. Since arriving in these parts in 1980, the clan has expanded and put down further roots. Our family live and work across the island, from the local doctor's surgery, to the beach at Calgary to the biscuit company established by our youngest son, Joe — Island Bakery.
It takes a hard-working team effort to make everything happen as it should on Sgriob-ruadh Farm, and we don't rest on our laurels either — we're always looking for ways to improve what we do, make better food & drink, and do it more sustainably.
VIABLE THROUGH RENEWABLES
As soon as we moved to Mull, we were already considering how best to use renewable energy, and we began preparations for a hydro scheme — firstly digging a 'hydro pond', where water is collected. It took quite some time to fully install the hydro-electric system now in place, and the majority of the work prepping the land, installing equipment etc. was done ourselves, over many years.
We have designed our business to make dairy farming viable on the island, and a big part of that is producing all of our own renewable and sustainable energy from wind, wood, and water.