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Grant helps farm near Lichfield create new opportunities

Caroline Cattle, John Barnes and James Hinton

Caroline Cattle, John Barnes and James Hinton

An award-winning farm near Lichfield is boosting its business and creating new jobs after securing support from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Backed by a £41,000 Rural Enterprise Grant (REG) from Herefordshire Council and Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and a £21,000 Redundant Building Grant, Packington Moor Farm is using the funding to diversify its business and generate new sales.

John Barnes, the third generation of his family to farm the land, has purchased new equipment for his farm shop, creating an on-site butchery and deli counter offering bespoke cuts of meat to customers. A new kitchen has also been installed supplying food to an enlarged cafe.

The farm, situated between Lichfield and Tamworth, makes an important contribution to the local economy and is noted for its award-winning wedding venue. It already employs around 40 people and the expanded farm shop has created ten new jobs with a new butcher set to start work later this year.

As well as boosting local employment opportunities, the expansion is expected to boost business and considerably improve turnover.

John said:

“We recognised that our business needed to diversify and these grants have been vital in helping us to achieve our aims. What we needed were income streams not affected by rural payments and the wedding business and farm shop are helping to achieve this and supplement traditional parts of the company.”

Market research undertaken on behalf of the business identified a potential customer base of around 200,000 people, who have the appropriate income level and 20 minute travelling time to service the farm shop.
However, a lack of space within the existing farm shop was holding back John’s expansion plans. With the aid of a Redundant Building Grant from Staffordshire County Council and AWM, he has converted a disused poultry shed to accommodate the enlarged shop, provide better parking facilities and also releasing additional space to improve the wedding venue.

John added:

“There are two Waitrose supermarkets within the catchment area – in Lichfield and Solihull – and ideally we would look to attract a similar customer to them. We are well located and have good access so getting here by road is easy. We are also lucky to the have the M6 Toll road very close by.”

The farm also surveyed its existing customers to get their thoughts and has attained a high approval rating for the plans. Many have said they would like to see a larger range of locally produced goods, while 86 per cent said they would like to choose their own meat.

In addition to securing the future of the farm, the expansion will also help support many local suppliers to the catering operation, while the enterprise will also enable the farm to develop its own Packington Pork and Lamb brands. The pork is from a neighbouring farm but the lamb is Packington reared, while all the vegetables grown on the farm – together with the meat – are used to supply the on-site catering facilities.

Caroline Cattle, Rural Enterprise Grant Manager, was delighted at the impact the funding has had on the business. She said:

“This is exactly what REG is all about – giving land-based companies and micro enterprises the opportunity to diversify and grow their business, many still based on traditional values. John and the team recognised a number of issues affecting performance and we have worked with him to make their ambitious plans come true. The excellent news is that the local economy is already benefitting with more jobs created and greater opportunities for local suppliers to the farm.”

Packington Moor is now almost a 700-acre working arable and livestock farm growing cereal crops, potatoes, pick your own fruits and a 250 ewe flock producing fat lambs from Easter to December. In addition to the shop it also operates a successful wedding and catering business.

The scale of this success was underlined last year when it secured the title Best Banqueting Venue in the prestigious Taste of Staffordshire Awards.

The Rural Enterprise Grant (REG) is funded under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), which is managed by Advantage West Midlands and administered by Herefordshire Council.

The grants are available for farmers and micro businesses developing and diversifying into food and drink, environmental technologies and tourism improvements.

If you want to find out more, the Rural Enterprise Grant team can be contacted on 01432 260662/383616.  For more details on Packington Moor visit www.packingtonmoor-events.co.uk.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

1 Comment

  1. North West Catering Suppliers

    11th February, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Its good to see possible new oppurtunities are rising from the grant you recieved, I hope it helps you boost the local community aswell.