Rural funding success showcased

Farmers, rural businesses and communities across Winchester and East Hampshire have been demonstrating how a rural grants programme has helped them to grow their businesses and ideas.

When a group of 20 visitors from the rural development organisations of the Basque region wanted to see a European grant programme in action in the UK, Ken Brown, Programme Manager for the Fieldfare Local Action Group at Winchester City Council, invited them to see how the scheme is helping those in Winchester and East Hampshire.

The visitors were treated to a showcase of rural projects which have received grant support, and they were impressed by the way that local businesses, rural communities, and the City Council are working together.

Ken Brown explained: "It was a very proud moment to see people, who originally came to me with an idea, now able to showcase their businesses and projects. The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) has made a real difference to rural businesses and communities"

Since April 2009, the Fieldfare Local Action Group has awarded £664,000 to 44 rural projects.

Amongst the grant recipients demonstrating their projects to the visitors was Bowtell’s Farm shop which provided the catering for the reception event using only local produce.

Toby Bowtell introduced his farm diversification business to the Basque guests and explained his passion for supporting local food and drink producers. He said: "The grant award has helped me support over 20 other local producers. The grant has made a big difference to our businesses and our lives"

The Fieldfare Local Action Group consists of local farmers, rural businesses, community organisations, East Hampshire District Council and Winchester City Council.

In 2008, the group was awarded £2.25million to deliver LEADER funding to rural areas of East Hampshire and Winchester. The programme is funded until 2013.

You can find out more at