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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 25/03/2024

It was during lockdown that the idea for Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen started to take shape. In just a few short years, the Wilson family have created a thriving agritourism business, renowned for exceptional quality local food.

Read on to find out about how the Wilsons diversified their working family farm, building a business as a popular dining destination, event space, and farm tour experience.


"We are all about seasonal food with provenance."

Robert and Lucy Wilson are third generation tenant farmers on Cowbog Farm in the Scottish Borders, home to a prize-winning herd of cattle, sheep and arable crops. Robert Wilson’s family have farmed here since 1938 and Lucy worked as a private chef.

Robert has a keen interest in farming best-practice, aiming to tread the balance between sensitive ecological management of the land and turning a profit from the farm.

As part of this, from 2016 the Wilsons started to diversify the business. They opened the farm for tours and activities, and used it for pedigree cattle training.


This was the first step in bringing visitors onto the farm and establishing the set-up which enabled them to show the public and farming professionals what they do.

They were also keen to look at opportunities to build in resilience, given the changes and challenges in the farming sector. Visitors came for tours and lunch, and their feedback was always: “the tour was great, but the food was fantastic”.

In 2020, Lucy started a small venture selling high-quality ready meals. These were made using both their own and locally sourced ingredients. Quickly, the farm started to become a small but vibrant hub for like-minded people wanting convenience food with exceptional flavour and integrity.

How they got started

“It took about a year to get going. We have been careful about what we have invested in the business. Part of the beauty and style of what we do is that it is very rustic.”

The Wilsons had taken a small amount of funding, including a LEADER grant. This gave them the resources to start to develop the infrastructure to offer field to fork experiences to their customers.

Each step has been taken with caution and consideration, factoring in their long-term tenancy of the farm. The development included a stable block conversion to create a multi-purpose event space, kitchen facilities, and loos.

They kept costs down by purchasing second hand goods and re-using materials from the farm. Seating up to 30 people, the stable block allowed them to take reservations for parties and dining events and enabled them to establish a regular schedule of bookable farm tours and food experiences.


People exploring Wilson's Farm and Kitchen.

How the business started to grow

  • Local, quality produce

    There was demand for their meals, with repeat business and positive feedback from customers in their local community.

    The provenance of the ingredients they sourced from the farm and carefully chosen local suppliers was important to their customers.

  • New experiences

    They established a schedule of bookable dining events, which they ran in addition to a programme of farm tours. Dining events included their popular curries or 25-mile themed menus, working with carefully chosen local suppliers.

    By scheduling bookings, they can plan their event calendar in advance, helping them to balance the demands on their time, and manage staff, supplies, and waste.

    Browse a list of events on

  • Local connections

    Joining Scottish Agritourism has been a useful and worthwhile learning opportunity. The peer support has been particularly beneficial. They also facilitated an educational trip to Tuscany to learn from well-established Italian businesses.

    Lucy strongly encourages current or prospective business owners to make this connection to benefit from its useful advice and helpful business critique.

  • Free web listing

    Obtaining a free listing on also delivered results. It was an easy process to manage and yields a steadily increasing stream of enquiries.

    They also facilitated an opportunity to exhibit to North American tour operators in London, which has proved fruitful.

  • Travel trade

    Specialist travel trade training from the South of Scotland Destination Alliance (SSDA) was very beneficial in understanding the sector and how it works. They support businesses to develop rate and fact sheets, which are critically important to have in place.

Developing the customer experience

“Find your niche and do it well, with good, seasonal ingredients. Do it justice.” 

The focus on seasonal food with provenance made their offering stand out. Lucy’s catering experience meant that they had the skills to produce high-quality, distinctive food.

The provenance of the ingredients used gave their food a clear identity, linked to the local environment and offered a compelling story of the farm, the ingredients, and the dishes.

The changing menu also allows for customers to taste something new on each visit. Menus are written at comparatively short notice, based on ingredient availability.


The Wilsons have steadily built a strong and loyal customer following because they knew that their customers were interested in food provenance and willing to pay for a quality experience. Many are from the local area, and some come from further afield, either finding them online or coming as part of a tour.

Their online presence and marketing include a website, maintaining social media profiles, and sending email newsletters.

The experience of dining in a communal setting is one their customers enjoy. It is an interactive and social experience, with Robert explaining which dishes visitors will be eating and Lucy running the kitchen.

It's quite different to other dining options in their area. As the Wilsons are so closely involved in the running of the business, they are able to engage with customers, and take and react to feedback.

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