What would John Lorne Campbell make of his story being told at a music festival? T in the Park would not be his style but he might feel quite at home in The Big Tent, a green festival celebrating sustainable land management with music and good local food.

black and white image of island farm

Sustainable farming on Canna (before the term was invented)

For a start he has much in common with Ninian Stuart, the man behind Scotland’s environmental festival.  The Hereditary Keeper of Falkland Palace spent the earlier part of his life as a social worker in Glasgow before returning to the responsibilities of managing the family estate in the 1990s. That evolved into the Falkland Centre for Stewardship, a charity with a holistic programme for sustainable land management involving the local community.  The Big Tent festival is organised by the centre in the Falkland estate’s rolling farmland on the edge of the very beautiful village of Falkland.  John would certainly have approved of the organic farm producing affordable food for local people.

The laird of Canna was also keen and versatile musician so he might enjoy the strong thread of traditional Scottish music running through festival programme. And he would certainly like the emphasis on recycling the rubbish as part of Zero Waste Scotland (he hated how tides of plastic waste destroyed the quality of kelp which had traditionally nourished crops grown on Canna).

sunlit lane to Canna House

The welcoming entrance to Canna House

But, to get back to the point, I’m very pleased to get the chance to talk about John’s life and work in the talks hosted by Word Power books during the Big Tent on Saturday 21st July. The theme is Think Global Act Local with a particular focus on the Year of the Co-operative.  It should not be difficult to make links with John’s way of farming and managing the land – and his early interest in the pioneering co-operative fisheries and credit-unions of Nova Scotia in the 1930s.

It is good to see my old book festival partner, Andy Wightman, is also taking part in the panel discussion on Land, Life and Livelihood a little later in the afternoon so I will be able to sit in on that.  If my talk finishes in time I might even get to the session on Food, Farming and Future with another very interesting panel including the writer Colin Tudge and environmental scientist Maggie Gill.