Fund helps farmer sell products at gate

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A farmer with no previous catering or butchery experience was given the confidence to diversify thanks to a £16,000 grant.

Rob Pratt runs Marbled Meats from his family farm in Northall where he raises lambs and Wagyu cows.

With funds from the LEADER Programme he is now able to process meat and sell from the farm gate.

Rob said: “Our aim is to produce the best beef and lamb products possible, ones that taste better than those from supermarkets.

“If we can get that aspect right, then the fact that we have the animals from birth, and raise them and process them ourselves, gives our customers the confidence they want and need when buying meat products.”

Marbled Meats previously relied on others for processing and selling their meat, so Rob began to formulate plans for diversification. But with no previous sales or butchery experience, he was in need of practical and moral support.

He said: “I knew about the LEADER programme and the support they offer rural businesses so I got in touch and was immediately supported by the team. I wanted to purchase a catering trailer and to install our own processing facilities at our farm, and received a £16,000 grant in order to do so.

“The LEADER team were there every step of the way with me. It felt like they were on my side and wanted me to get the funding.”

Will Dallimore, LEADER project manager, said: “I am delighted a LEADER grant has had such a positive impact on this rural business to ensure its future growth and prosperity.

“Whether you are a farmer, grower, small shop owner, forester, member of a community group, or run a rural business of any kind, you could be eligible for a LEADER grant.”

With his farm now equipped with processing facilities and a brand new catering trailer with which to sell directly to customers at events, Rob has been able to hire an additional full-time employee, and another on a part-time basis.

Rob said: “I wouldn’t have been brave enough to go through with it all if it hadn’t been for LEADER which gave us the confidence we needed. And when you have confidence in what you are doing and what you are selling, you are better able to interact with customers and get more sales.”

Rob is in no doubt as to the role the LEADER grant has played in this development. He added: “First, LEADER was our safety net, giving us the confidence we needed to dream big. Then, LEADER became our springboard, helping to take us to new heights.”

The LEADER Programme delivers grants of between £5,000 – £100,000 to support business growth in rural areas. Example projects eligible for funding include farm shops, farming and forestry machinery, glamping, local food initiatives, food and drink processing, and many more.

Funding is available for a limited time only, so get in touch to find out more. Call the team on 07802 411040 / 07375 019227 or visit www.leader-programme.org.uk

The grants are administered by Ngage Solutions, on behalf of the LEADER Local Action Groups.

The LEADER programme is designed to promote business growth, particularly the growth of micro and small businesses. It is focused on rural areas supporting; small rural companies, farm diversification projects, forestry projects, tourism projects, rural services and cultural and heritage projects. Each programme area is expected to help with the creation of approximately 75 jobs and to provide financial support for 130 rural businesses.

In the 2008-2013 LEADER programme, projects delivered by Ngage were some of the most successful in the UK. 124 projects were awarded funding which in turn sustained 206 jobs, created 117 new jobs and helped launch 39 new businesses.