The Prince’s Countryside Fund awards £575k to 12 projects

Having already contributed £3.3million in grants in the 3 years since its inception, the latest round of funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund is being allocated to projects and organisations which address 5 key issues facing rural Britain; low farming incomes, rural isolation, lack of access to training, decline of rural communities and disconnect with the countryside.

· £50,000 to The Kindling Trust to fund an incubator farm project ‘Farm Start Manchester’ which will help to create a more sustainable and fairer food system in the North West by establishing 10 new ‘Farm Start’ businesses and providing a comprehensive training programme benefitting 90 people

· £150,000 to FACE will educate 9,000 children from 150 schools about food and farming in a sustainable countryside through farm visits and school based learning, such as growing and cooking fresh produce

· 250 farmers in Exmoor (Devon and Somerset) will benefit from knowledge transfer, training and establishing peer support groups, to help improve the viability and efficiency of Exmoor Farming businesses

· £45,898 will develop the skills of 12 young hill farmers in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales and fund the creation of a web based labour directory to enable the beneficiaries to market their skills to farmers.

Victoria Elms, Manager at The Prince’s Countryside Fund, explains; “These grants will support the people, organisations and communities working tirelessly to preserve and ensure the long term sustainability of British farming, agriculture and the wider rural economy. With the help of our admirable supporting companies, it’s a great achievement for The Prince’s Countryside Fund to be able to support so many excellent projects which collectively will benefit over 64,000 people.”

“The countryside is one our greatest assets, with 70% of our drinking water coming from the UK’s upland areas and 60% of the UK’s food being grown domestically. In the next 50 years we will have to produce more food than we have in the last 10,000, and we hope that educating children in sustainable food and drink production, giving young people the skills and training needed to continue rural careers and investing in the viability of farm businesses will go a long way to achieving that”.

Since 2010, The Prince’s Countryside Fund has given grants to support 127 rural communities by improving service provision, 3,006 farm businesses through funding projects that work directly with farmers to improve efficiency and profitability and 792 rural enterprises through supporting innovative rural business projects.

2,492 young people have benefitted from projects offering training opportunities and 18,000 children will be educated in food and farming in a sustainable countryside.

Falkland Stewardship Trust (Addresses: Lack of access to training) Scotland £30,000 The centre for stewardship promotes the principles and practice of stewardship from the Falkland Estate – 1900 hectares of farmland. This project will offer training opportunities to young people in rural Fife and ensure the long term sustainability of rural skills. At the end of the project 60 young people will have obtained training in rural skills, and 110 will have received some kind of rural skills training including agriculture and or forestry skills.

Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group (Addresses: Low farming incomes) East of England £27,229
The group is a local charity that is dedicated to combating hardship and disadvantage in the area. Since 2002 they have assisted over 750 people and realised in excess of £1m in unpaid entitlements and benefits. This two year project will fund the existing work of the group and aims to improve the quality of life in rural communities and the security and viability of small tenant farms by providing information and advice, practical help and guidance and professional support to farmers and families suffering hardship. 70 people will benefit per year of which approximately 50 will be farmers. They will all receive one to one support from a team of volunteers including a banker, farm manager, and land agents.

The Rocklands Community Shop (Addresses: Rural isolation) East of England £47,730
Rocklands is a vibrant yet isolated rural community in Norfolk. They have set up an IPS to run the village shop and agreed a 10 year lease which starts in March. The grant from The Prince’s Countryside Fund will pay for the refurbishment of the shop so that it can become a cafe and accommodated more and varied stock with an emphasis on local produce. Funding will also be spent on building works and salary costs for the four part time employees while the project gets established. Over 700 people from the local community will benefit.

The Farmer Network (Addresses: Lack of access to training) North West £45,898
The Farmer Network covers Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales and aims to maintain and support a viable farming community, maximise rural incomes, informing and educating the public and raising the profile of farming. The Fund’s grant will help to deliver the new “Skills Development for Young Hill Farmers” project, a trial system allowing young hill farmers to get experience of working on other hill farms to help them gain new skills and experience working outside the family environment. This will enable them to broaden their skills both to improve their ability to run their own farms, but also to give them the opportunity to offer their skills on a self employed basis to maximise their income. The young hill farmers will also benefit from a training bursary and the project will includes the creation of a web based labour directory to enable the beneficiaries to market their skills to farmers. In total 12 young hill farmers will benefit.

The Farmer Network (Addresses: Low farming incomes) North West £29,600
This grant will enable the continuation of the Jason Kanabus Programme. Phase 2 of the programme will support 20 young people to be trained in how to run their business, with 16 new businesses set up as a result.

Kindling Trust (Addresses: Lack of access to training) North West £50,000
The Kindling Trust is a not for profit enterprise working to create a more sustainable and fairer food system in the North West. Projects include Manchester Veg people, Farm Start Manchester and the Manchester Land Army. The grant will fund ‘Farm Start Manchester’. Launched in 2013 it is an incubator farm project supporting new entrants to organic vegetable production to overcome the many obstacles they face in setting up a commercially viable enterprise. Through providing a comprehensive training programme that covers technical growing knowledge, to business management skills, marketing skills and market development 90 people will learn new skills and 10 new ‘Farm Start’ businesses will be established.

Farming Life Centre (Addresses: Low farming incomes) East Midlands £49,348
The Farming Life Centre seeks to improve quality of life of members of the rural hill farming community in the Peak District by developing and delivering high impact projects and services which promote the health and well being of the residents of the scattered farming communities of the area. The grant will continue to support the work of the Peak District Farm Business Support Project and Farm Business Development Officer for a further two years, supporting 180 farmers and 60 farm businesses.

Fresh Start (Addresses: Lack of access to training) National £50,000
Fresh Start was set up in 2004 to help find ways for new entrants to start up business in land based sectors and successfully developed and trialled specialist pig, dairy and upland academies with great results. The grant will allow them to deliver a further 2 dairy academies, 4 upland academies, 2 pig academies and the development of two more sector specific academies such as lowland beef and sheep farming and commercial horticulture. In total, between 198 and 280 people will benefit.

North Devon+ (Addresses: Low Farming Incomes) South West £49,994
North Devon + is an economic development company supported by the public and private sectors; its aim is to regenerate communities and promote economic development in North Devon. The purpose of the project is to improve the viability and efficiency of Exmoor Farming businesses through knowledge transfer, training and establishing peer support groups. A funded project coordinator will organise a range of training and group support activities, these will be practical sessions and on farm visits and cover soil and grassland management, livestock health, business skills and environmental farming. 200 members will be recruited to the Association and 250 farmers will benefit from training and events. There will be specific training events for 20 young people through the Next Generation programme and 40 women via the ‘women in Farming’ group.

The Conservation Volunteers (Addresses: Lack of access to training) Northern Ireland £14,420
The Conservation Volunteers are a UK wide charity with the aim of investing in a better environment, improved health and wellbeing, environmentally active citizens and employment and skills for the future. The ‘BEST West’ project in County Fermanagh and County Tyrone is to provide young people (16-25) with a short period of training to develop countryside management and conservation skills which will enable them to find work or self employment or progress to longer term study. This one year project will run during 2014 involving 15 participants in 28 days of formal training and practical work experience. It is hoped this will then be a springboard for progression in to land based industries.

Dry Stone Walling Association (Addresses: Decline of rural communities) National £32,000 The Dry Stone Walling Association was set up to promote and advance the traditional craft of dry stone walling and to secure the transfer of heritage skills to the next generation of upland farmers and rural workers. This grant will enable them to provide training and support to young people, who have little experience of this traditional skill, by offering training vouchers to assist with dry stone walling courses and qualifications. In total, 150 people will benefit from completing dry stone walling training and qualifications.

FACE (Addresses: Disconnect with the countryside) National £150,000 The aim of FACE is to educate children and young people about food and farming in a sustainable countryside. Representing 13,250 teachers and 129 farmers it is a nationwide charity. FACE have been awarded an additional grant of £150,000 over a two year period to extend the ‘Countryside Matters’ programme, through farm visits or school based activity such as growing or cooking fresh food. In total 150 schools and 9,000 young people in areas of economic disadvantage will benefit.

The companies that support the Fund are: Asda, Barbour, Barclays, Booths, Countrywide, Coutts, Dairy Crest, Duchy Original, Ginsters, HSBC, Hunter, Jordans & Ryvita, Land Rover, Lloyds, McDonald’s, Marks & Spencer, Moy Park, Musto, Pepsi Co, Strutt & Parker, United Biscuits and Waitrose

The public can make a donation online at Virgin Giving at the Post Office or by Text. Text PCF to 70300 and a £3 donation will be made to The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

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