Darren Peattie hopes to be harvesting salt from St Monans in January 2021.
A new salt business is celebrating after smashing its crowdfunding campaign which will see salt harvesting take place in St Monans once again.
Darren Peattie, owner of East Neuk Salt Co. launched the campaign in September and has managed to raise more than £52K thanks to 292 pledgers.
Looking to hit the target of £28K, the Crowdfunder campaign raised £22,154 in 38 days, with a private donation of £30K received on the final day of the campaign, too.
Having established the business mid 2019, Darren has plans to grow East Neuk Salt Co. to be Scotland’s biggest salt producer, aiming to generate one to two tonnes of salt every month which equated for 7-14,000 units.
On a mission to bring back the historic St Monans saltpans and resurrect salt harvesting in the kingdom to preserve the industry long-term, Darren also has plans to open a visitor attraction to bring more tourism to the area, too.
He said: “The last hour of the campaign was quite intense. We took £1,700 in the last hour and a lady had tweeted that it was more intense than the Eurovision.
“The target was £28K but we also received a private pledge of £30K so that took our final up to just over £52K. On the final day of the crowdfunder I met with a women who I had been chatting with and who was impressed with what we were doing and she donated £30K privately to the crowdfunder.
“I couldn’t believe it and had to ask her if this was real, she said yes and I said I would happily accept. I’m currently trying to work out what kind of reward we can give her as all other pledges will receive a reward for pledging so I want to make sure she receives something, too.
“The £30K will be extremely useful for the business at this moment in time.”
Hoping the crowdfunding campaign would be a success, Darren had already lined up what the £28K could do to help the business. However, he has been overwhelmed with the support the business has received and can now progress the development of other new products as a result of the £52K total.
He said: “We’re going to be able to grow quicker, employ staff quicker, too, as we’ll be able to upscale the project even more now to start working on other products. We’re looking to add crisps and popcorn products to the business as well.
“The premises in St Monans will be where the salt harvesting and crystallisation of the salt takes place and the premises in Leven will be where we make the popcorn, crisps and the salt atomiser range. Everything will be made in house and we want to make our own crisps by working with local farmers to grow potatoes and work with people like Summer Harvest Oils to make them. We want to use as many local producers as we can. We’re going big!”
Looking to start salt production in January 2021, Darren says the challenges the pandemic keeps throwing his way will not stop the company progressing – providing his engineer doesn’t have to stay in lockdown in Ireland longer than the six weeks he already is.
“The roof on the premises in St Monans should be on by the end of the year. Unfortunately our engineer is locked down in Ireland for the next six weeks so we have said by January we want to be harvesting salt,” said Darren.
“It should have been before Christmas but lockdown and the pandemic has impacted the business once again.
“We’re getting the kit ready: the tanks, the crystallisers, the reactors and that sort of thing. It will be getting delivered to our premises in Leven and will be stored there until we can get the engineer over. We’ve nearly completed the revamp of the premises and we’re nearly good to go.”
Receiving lots of online support from celebrity chefs Tony Singh and William Curley, not to mention Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin and other well-known TV and entertainment professionals, Darren was delighted to see how quickly interest in the business grew.
Offering backers the opportunity to enjoy a multitude of rewards for the money they donated, some were lucky enough to bag dinner at Tony Singh’s house and a box of William Curley’s luxury chocolates.
He said: “When we first launched the crowdfunder I was really nervous. As momentum started building I was getting more confidence. When we had people like Tony Singh, William Curley, Ian Rankin, the guys from Still Game, one of the guys from Two Doors Down get involved I thought ‘we’re actually building this Scottish community where everyone is willing to take a punt on the East Neuk’. I was waking up every morning thinking who else would be getting involved.
“Everyone from the outside is now looking in on the East Neuk. Everyone has their own story with this area and the crowdfunder has been excellent for bringing more recognition to the East Neuk.”