This Life: Mark and Maggie Bush

An idyllic Perthshire farm is the setting for a burgeoning family business that’s making the most of an alternative harvest

You’d be forgiven for auto­matically assuming that a family whose names are Bush and Cameron, and whose business is oil, would have aspirations of high political office. Not this Perthshire brood, though. The oil that concerns them tends to be drizzled over a salad rather than pumped through a pipeline. From their farm just outside Crieff in the Strathearn valley, Maggie and Mark Bush are making their own range of oils and salad dressings by hand. Today, their products are sold in more than 200 farm shops and delis throughout the country, with top Scottish chefs such as Tom Lewis (Monachyle Mhor), Andrew Fairlie (Gleneagles) and Jacqueline O’Donnell (The Sisters, The Great British Menu) using their cold-pressed rapeseed oil exclusively in their kitchens. And it all began, explains Mark, with potatoes.
“Maggie and I met through mutual friends at a party in London,” he says. He had been travelling and was ready for a career change. Maggie was already doing the job she loved – she is a sports physiotherapist who has worked with several of the UK’s top teams at the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, and is currently the British curling team’s lead physio – but with her roots in Perthshire, it was an easy decision to return north of the border to her family’s farm.
“I was working as an IT and business consultant on the trading floor of a bank in London,” recalls Mark. “I liked it, but I didn’t love it.” Food and drink – and, like Maggie, sport – were what he was really passionate about.
They moved quickly (Maggie from her role in a Harley Street clinic, where she was physio to some of the biggest West End theatre shows, including the likes of Mamma Mia!), giving up their jobs before securing new ones in Scotland. They also bought a house in nearby Stirling – without viewing it. “My parents and a friend of mine had been to see it and said it reminded them of our house in London,” laughs Maggie. “That was enough for us!”
Mark had also started studying remotely (a course in hospita­lity management that would feed into his culinary aspirations), but he realised that if he was going to work on Maggie’s family farm, he wanted to bring something new, exciting and profitable to the table.

This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 20-28, issue 108.

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Photography Neale Smith
Words Catherine Coyle
Art Direction Gillian Welsh