Rural businesses given a helping hand

Five rural businesses have been given a helping hand as the credit crunch continues to bite.

Farmers, foresters and other countryside companies in the East Hampshire and Winchester areas have been applying for grants from a £2m pot.

The Fieldfare Local Action Group awards the grants and has, so far, committed to spending £108,737 from this year’s grant budget. The group is supported by both Winchester City Council and East Hampshire District Council.

The funding has included support for farm diversification projects, local food production, and even waste composting.

The grants will enable businesses to make significant changes to their products and services, and help to ensure continued enterprise in the countryside.

Andrew Gordon, Chair of the Fieldfare Local Action Group, said: “I am delighted that these businesses are being helped by these grants. It is fantastic that these small rural businesses are now benefiting from targeted funding right when they need it most”

The action group has been awarded LEADER funding from SEEDA (the South East England Development Agency) on behalf of Defra and the EU.

The funding comes from the Rural Development Programme for England and is aimed at assisting rural businesses, especially farming and forestry related businesses and the communities around them.

The money is available to applicants in the East Hampshire and Winchester districts, excluding the urban centre of Winchester city, Alton, Whitehill Bordon, Petersfield and Horndean.

The Fieldfare LEADER Programme aims to help agricultural or woodland businesses, farm shops, improve local tourist attractions, develop skills and enterprise and enhance the physical environment.

Find out more about LEADER funding at or contact Ken Brown, LEADER Programme Manager on 01962 848 588 or email