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Moray micro farmer aims to change way we think about food

Rising Roots hand delivers nutritionally dense microgreens, specialist herbs and edible flowers across the north.

Daniel Oliveira, of Rising Roots.
Daniel Oliveira, of Rising Roots, is on a mission to supply "optimum nutrition" for local people. Image: DCT Media

Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Daniel Oliveira, the micro farmer behind Rising Roots at Shempston House, near Elgin.

How and why did you start in business?

Micro farming encapsulated my ideals of promoting healthy living, advocating for local produce and embracing zero waste principles. My journey into this sector sprouted from a realisation people are hungry for change and viable alternatives.

With Rising Roots, my mission is to provide “optimum nutrition for local people”.

‘Impactful change’

I’m dedicated to creating impactful change in how people perceive healthy, sustainable food.

For me, it’s more than a business. Rising Roots is a conduit for change and a commitment to revolutionise the way we think about food and sustainability in the north of Scotland.

This business endeavour isn’t just about profit; it’s a canvas on which I can paint my vision of a healthier, conscientious community.

How did you get to where you are today?

Travelling the globe, I explored numerous farming projects to understand the benefits of farm-to-table produce. I chose education over financial gain, learning the steps involved in bringing fresh food to market.

Living frugally and travelling on a shoestring budget, I managed to save enough capital to take the leap into the unknown and, on returning to Moray, entered the world of business ownership.

Daniel Oliveira, Rising Roots.
“For me, it’s more than a business” -Daniel Oliveira, Rising Roots. Image: FSB

Who helped you?

Fortunately, I’ve had guidance from various mentors. Both my father and brother, successful business owners themselves, have been invaluable sources of advice.

Mentors from farming projects and content creators sharing techniques aligned with my goals have also played crucial roles.

I’ve recently joined the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). I look forward to accessing its many membership benefits as my business grows.

I’m considering applying for the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards this year, as I think it would help raise awareness of my business and mission among a wider audience.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

Observing has been the most vital advice. Even if a problem seems unsolvable in the moment, taking time to observe its nuances, gathering information and scrutinising details often leads to discovering a solution. There’s always an answer in the details.

What is your biggest mistake?

I’ve made quite a few and embraced them all as learning experiences. Among them, waiting too long to start a business stands out.

Daniel Oliveira.
Image: FSB

What is your greatest achievement?

Climbing Mount Snezka on the Poland-Czechia border. This is a giant of a mountain, reaching over 5,000ft. The accomplishment was especially challenging as I was climbing it in winter, wearing just swim shorts and boots in -20°C temperatures.

This remains my most notable physical and mental triumph.

How are you managing rapidly rising costs and how could the government help?

Coping with escalating costs involves embracing a minimalist lifestyle. While the government offers support to small businesses, finding the time to access these resources remains a challenge.

What do you still hope to achieve?

Expanding the vision encompasses not just geographical growth, with UK-wide wholesale, but also diversifying product offerings. I plan to grow an extensive salad leaf selection and provide a veg box scheme, while also integrating polytunnels to grow a wider array of fresh produce on-site.

By “on-site” I refer to my business premises, Shempston House, an 18th-century farmhouse with an acre-sized lawn. Expansion will extend to a micro farm tour of Shempston House. Guided explorations will give visitors a chance to see our operational polytunnels and edible flower garden cultivation, while partaking in a distinctive salad sampling and forging a memorable connection with the farm’s organic offerings.

In addition, I’m aiming to host supper clubs with dishes crafted from organically grown ingredients sourced on the property, delivering a unique culinary experience.

What do you do to relax?

I’m a trained yoga practitioner. I find boundless health and relaxation benefits in this practice. I also enjoy hill walking, wild swimming, sauna sessions, occasional films, audiobooks, and podcasts on health and current affairs.

What are you currently reading, listening to, or glued to on TV?

I’m engrossed in Franz Kafka’s The Trial via audiobook. I occasionally indulge in nature documentaries and science fiction series on TV.

What do you waste your money on?

Even my indulgences – like natural energy boosters, caffeinated beverages and supplements -are calculated expenditures aimed at benefits.

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Every morning starts with making my bed, exposing myself to sunlight and enjoying a cup of coffee, while expressing gratitude for life’s simple pleasures.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I’m currently driving a Volvo XC90, renowned for its safety features. I’m considering a larger vehicle, like a VW Transporter Multivan Hybrid, to accommodate the growing demands of my business.