Scottish agricultural charity, the Royal Highland & Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS), is seeking agricultural and rural stories from across the decades in recognition of its 240th anniversary.

Over the next 12 months, the RHASS ‘240 Years of Stories’ initiative hopes to bring to life a “rich tapestry of tales” that relay people’s experiences of rural life, connections and pivotal moments within the agricultural community, the charity said.

RHASS chief executive, Alan Laidlaw, said: “RHASS was formed two hundred and forty years ago and while the organisation has evolved tremendously since then, the very reason RHASS continues to exist today hasn’t changed; and that is to champion agriculture and support those who live and work within it.

“It’s those who have a connection with the sector and industry that we’d love to hear from.

“Whether you were brought up on a farm, have family who own a farm or have historic tales of generations gone by who worked within the sector and contributed in some way to the industry, we’d love to hear your stories.

“In gathering tales old and new, we can help preserve these stories so that two hundred and forty years from now, future generations can learn and enjoy what has gone before them.”

One of the stories set to be included in the RHASS initiative is that of James Logan, who lives at Athelstaneford Mains near North Berwick and farms arable and potatoes.

Logan family

Logan is a third-generation farmer and was born in 1965. He took over the farm from his father, Willie Logan, in 1990, and developed it from a mixed farm which his grandfather, John Logan, started in 1931, to what it is today.

Willie Logan is now 92 and lives seven miles away at Samuelston South Mains.

His own story of living and farming through the years features on the OnRecord – Memories of Rural Life, from the makers of the OnFarm podcast who are a partner of the 240 Years of Stories initiative.

Like his dad who was a director with RHASS, James Logan has been a director for RHASS for several years.

He will also take on the position as chair of RHASS in the summer, where he will help lead the strategy of the organisation for the next two years.

James Logan lives at Athelstaneford Mains with his wife, Elinor.

She started The Veg Shed, a veg shop with a difference which was started to diversify the farm by offering fresh potatoes, eggs and vegetables from a vending machine.

James Logan said: “Being born on the farm, and having come from a line of farmers, you could say I was always destined to become a farmer.

“While I toyed with other occupations, my love of the countryside and admiration of what my father did within farming prevailed and after studying agriculture at university, I knew that farming was the right path for me.

“Unlike my father who had and continues to have a great eye for cattle, when I took over the farm, I knew I wanted to run it differently. My dad was very supportive of me changing the format of the farm to focus on potatoes and arable.

“We worked together for many years before his semi-retirement developing our crops and the business, so we have lots of fond memories of the highs and lows of running the business.”

Logan said the way that he views the future of the farm is that he is just “the custodian of my land for a very short while”.

“I have a son and a daughter, who may or may not take over one day, and so I’ve really encouraged them to find their own path to discover what their future looks like,” he said.

“My son, Hamish, studied agriculture too and is currently a food and farming consultant for Savills. He is involved in the young farmers community like I was.

“My daughter, Anna, has just become a Chartered Accountant, so while neither of them are currently working on the farm full time, they are part of our succession plan.

“When they takeover, then they will be armed with a broad range of life skills and know-how that will only help to contribute towards future-proofing the land.”

Logan said there are so many other similar stories which stretch across generations in how farmland has evolved, the positive impact people have made to the industry and how the use of land has changed to support the future food or supply requirements of wider society.

“I hope that others come forward to share their tales and help to create a bank of stories that can be preserved for years to come.”

Chair appointment

Commenting on his upcoming chair appointment, Logan said: “I’ve worked closely with RHASS for the last seven years as a director and honorary secretary, so it’s an honour to be taking on the mantle as chairman to help support the direction of the charity over the coming two years, especially during their anniversary year.

“It will be fantastic to be working even more closely with the team in helping guide activity around the rural economy, the bursaries and grants the charity offers and what more we can do to support local agricultural shows which is the starting point for those competitors who join us at the Royal Highland Show every June.”