First LEADER grants for local rural businesses
The Fieldfare group, responsible for allocating LEADER funding across Winchester and East Hampshire district, has this week awarded its first grants, totalling £51,000, to two local food and drink producers.
Mr Whitehead’s Cider and Bowtell’s Farm shop, both members of Hampshire Farmers Markets, will benefit from the grant programme. The cash awards will help them to develop their existing businesses by adding value to their locally produced fare.
Since March this year, over 90 local small rural businesses, farmers, foresters and community groups have asked the Fieldfare Local Action Group (LAG) to consider supporting them.
With the current applicants seeking nearly £1.5m worth of investment support, the LAG has been busy deciding which projects best meet local priorities and eligibility criteria.
Cllr George Beckett, Leader of Winchester City Council, is impressed with the quality of the applications received so far:
“Twenty one projects have been invited to submit full applications so far, and this year’s grant pot is worth £365,000. We have had a great level of interest from local businesses, and hope to allocate even more funds over the next few months. This is an important aspect of our collaborative work to support local businesses during these difficult times”
Fieldfare Local Action Group has been allocated over two million pounds in LEADER funding over five years by the South East England Development Agency, on behalf of the Government Department Defra and the European Union. The funding comes from the Rural Development Programme for
Andrew Gordon, chair of the Local Action Group, has been leading the process of allocating grants:
“The LAG is made up of a dedicated group of farmers, businesses and community representatives. We meet regularly to decide how best we can support the local rural economy by allocating the grant funding. We have to make some tough decisions, but we are committed to spending LEADER funding for the good of the local economy.”