Sydney Gauld of Quoyberstane Farm, St Ola, near Kirkwall is an Orcadian farmer who grows Bere barley for Bruichladdich. Bere is the ancient landrace from which the illegal spirit uisge beatha was distilled back in the 18th century and from which modern whisky was to evolve.
Sydney is the fourth generation of his family to farm at Quoyberstane. He is an enthusiastic photographer, and took these lovely shots of Bere at various stages of its development on his farm.
A keen natural historian, Sydney manages the Orkney Wildlife Information and Records Centre which is based with in the Orkney Library and Archive in Kirkwall. He is also the Local County Recorder for moths and butterfies for Orkney. With this interest in wildlife he is constantly recording the wildlife that he sees around his land.
Bere is a crop that is well suited to a farmer who has an interest in the preservation of biodiversity. Both Sydney and his fellow Bere farmer Magnus Spence on Burray favour ‘minimum intervention’ agricultural practices, minimising the application of pesticides and fertilisers, an approach which is of considerable benefit to wildlife. When sowing his bere Sydney only gives the bere a drop of fertiliser and then leaves it completely alone till the day it is harvested.
Very different to conventional modern strains of barley, an ear of Bere has six rows of grains instead of two. It grows quickly in the long daylight hours of northern latitudes and is the subject of a long term collaboration between Bruichladdich and the Agronomy Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands to ensure a viable supply chain for the distillation of one of the world’s most remarkable and unique single malt whiskies.”