A project to celebrate the legacy of a Tayside man credited with discovering the process of natural selection 30 years before Charles Darwin, has been awarded Heritage Lottery funding.
The Carse of Gowrie Sustainability Group (CoGSG) will receive £10,000 for the Patrick Matthew Memorial Project which includes a festival weekend from September 30 to October 1
“This project, which is two years in the making, will create a story-map and trail for people of all ages to discover Patrick Matthew’s Carse and his contribution to science, orchards, redwoods and social justice,” said Fiona Ross, CoGSG chair.
“Securing the Heritage Lottery funding promotes a memorial to his legacy for local residents and Matthew’s descendants.”
The group is working with Matthew’s descendants, including Howard Minnick, and expert Dr Mike Sutton from Nottingham Trent University to promote his legacy.
Despite his early discovery of the process of natural selection, the 19th century landowner, farmer, social justice campaigner and fruit grower has never been recognised by the scientific establishment.
Dr Sutton maintains Darwin’s book Origin of Species, published in 1859, had been heavily influenced by Matthew’s work, On Naval Timber and Arboriculture, published in 1831, which contains the complete hypothesis of the theory of natural selection.
“In actuality, it is Scotland and its people who have been most short changed by this deception,” said botanist and conservationist Howard Minnick.
“Therefore, it is they and Scotland who need to recover this heritage taken from them. That is what I hope to accomplish and help to bring about with this memorial project.”
It was Matthew who introduced the Californian giant sequoia redwood to the Inchture and Errol area and one was recently discovered at Megginch Castle, owned by Catherine Drummond-Herdman.
In America, redwoods are depleting in number due to global warming and establishing a genetic reserve in Scotland will secure their future.
Redwoods are incredibly difficult to propagate and while many have failed, a Carse family have just succeeded using seeds from Matthew’s original trees in Inchture.
One of these has been planted at Megginch Castle, involving the local growers and the sustainability group’s junior division, the Junior Carsonians (representatives from the six local Carse primary school) who have been studying famous local people like Matthew.