Rural funding brings ‘souper’ Christmas

Non-stop cooking and chilling of soup ready for the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market has been made possible with funds from the Rural Development Programme for England.

Bowtell’s Farm Shop, based at East Tisted, secured European funding for a blast-chiller to enable them to cool their soups and ready meals.

Toby Bowtwell said:

The blast-chiller is marvellous! We have been able to speed up our production in readiness for the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market as well as deliver environmental health best practice.

The project is an excellent example of how the European funding managed by the Fieldfare Local Action Group has enabled businesses to expand and bring employment to the area.

The Fieldfare Local Action Group supports businesses and communities in the countryside, villages and market towns within East Hampshire and Winchester.

Since 2009, £1,430,050 has been provided to 136 projects. As a result at least 126 new jobs have been created and 300 existing jobs protected.

The group is also developing a proposal to secure funding for the next round of rural development funding from the EU and hopes to include other rural areas next time.

David Webb chairs the group. He is a local businessman and is joined by local farmers, business owners, community representatives and support from the two councils who decide which projects can receive grant support.

Mr Webb said:

We have seen first-hand how a rural development grant can create local jobs, enable farms to diversify and support local small rural businesses to generate economic growth. We also want to know about people’s plans for the next five years. Our intention is to apply for more funds to support growth in the local rural economy and to help rural businesses achieve their project aspirations.

The project has been financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas. Further information about the LEADER project and the plans being developed during 2014 can be obtained from the Programme team on 01962 848 311 or via e mail . Details of the Local Action Group can be found at