In March we hosted two townhall style events in Gloucestershire. These focused on helping rural businesses access grant funding through their local LEADER programmes. LEADER funding is available from the EU and is set aside to support rural businesses by offering up to 40% match funding for projects in rural sectors. The grants are used to specifically help create new revenues and jobs for local people in rural areas.
We were fortunate to host our events at two exciting local businesses. These included Hillside Brewery (pictured) and Hayles Fruit Farm. We were also joined by a number of local professionals who were on hand to provide valuable advice and guidance. This included local solicitors, accountants, land agents and entrepreneurs from Tanners Solicitors, Tayler & Fletcher, HCR Law, Hazlewoods, Griffiths Marshall and the local LEADER representative for Forest of Dean and Tewkesbury.
Both funding events included an overview and quick presentation from Neil Batt, the local LEADER representative. Neil provided the rural business owners with a detailed overview of how the grant funding works, what is eligible and how best to navigate the process. Additionally, topics around land valuations, how to submit and present costings, company structures, tax matters as well as issues to do with Brexit were high on the agenda.
We’d like to say a huge thank you to our hosts who provided superb venues and served as excellent examples of how to diversify and set up new ventures within rural economies.
Our first event was held at Hillside Brewery; owner and co-founder Paul Williamson was on hand to provide advice about setting up a new venture in the food & drink/leisure sectors, plus his experience of applying for grant funding. Paul and his team have created some delicious beers and ales which were served in their fabulous venue with views down through the Forest towards Gloucester. Hillside Brewery is a positive example of creating a new venture from nothing and generating new employment for local people; Paul now employs half a dozen people on site with a view to hiring more during the summer season and for events.
Our second venue and host was Hayles Fruit Farm based in Winchcombe. Owner Martin Harrell shared his advice and journey from his early days of growing blackcurrants and apples to diversifying into other fruits, creating a pressing facility for other local producers to make juice as well as opening up the farm for camping, tourism, a farm shop and restaurant. By diversifying the farm, Martin has made the business a destination for local visitors, families to come eat and shop and for walkers looking for accommodation as the farm sits on the popular Cotswold Way.
We will be hosting more events like these across our regions in the coming months – do keep an eye out if you’re interested in attending. Equally, please come and speak to us if you have any questions about how FOLK2FOLK can help you grow, diversify or develop your business.
More information about LEADER funding can be found online.