2018-09-05 

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90 Young People Supported to Work Towards a Dream

The Farmer Network operating in Cumbria and the Yorkshire Dales has always recognised the importance of supporting young people to enter the farming industry. One of the Network’s flagship projects over the last 7 years has been Business Support for Young People.

Funded and supported by The Prince’s Trust and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, 90 young people have benefitted from the support, many of whom have gone on to start their own farming - related business.

Adam Crowe

Adam Crowe

The scheme is offered to 18- 30 year olds who have a farm- related business idea but are limited by the resources or opportunities available to them. It comprises a short course on the basics of business planning, one to one support from an experienced farm business adviser and the chance to apply for a low interest loan and training grant, plus ongoing support from a volunteer business mentor.

Now the Farmer Network is calling for any young people with such an idea to come forward. An ‘Explore Enterprise’ session is planned in the near future as a first step in looking at a new business venture.

Kate Gascoyne has project managed the scheme for several years. She says “I know there are young people out there working on farms or involved in the industry who see an opportunity to create their own business but perhaps don’t know how to. It is these people we would like to offer support to. Many times we have heard the phrase ‘make a dream come true’ and we encourage young people with an agribusiness idea to get in touch to see how we can help”.

“A vast range of new businesses have been supported across Cumbria and The Yorkshire Dales. These include brand new beef and sheep enterprises, agricultural engineering and repairs businesses, sheep contracting services, cheese production from home produced milk, commercial duck egg production”.

Business Support for Young People Case Study: Adam Crowe

Adam Crowe was brought up on a small Lakeland dairy farm and was encouraged to seek an education and another source of income for a living. His interest in farming and the interaction with nature led him to study and work in wildlife conservation and environmental management, but he always wanted to have a nature-friendly, small-scale farming enterprise of his own. Exploring his options and the economics of such an enterprise on the Explore Enterprise course and with his business adviser helped him to gain the confidence to seek out a conservation grazing opportunity at a local estate. He now grazes a number of orchards with his own flock of Devon Closewools, a traditional thrifty breed of sheep. He received a loan to help him purchase 20 ewes and a ram and the feed costs until the planned sale of the first lambs. He hopes to sell meat and wool direct to customers, many of whom are already buying fruits and juices from the orchards. In order to get a regular income, Adam continues to work for others doing conservation work and he helps out on the family farm. He plans to increase his flock gradually, as further grazing opportunities arise and would eventually like to have his own cattle to provide a conservation grazing service. There are not many people who are experienced in conservation grazing and so Adam greatly values the opportunity to talk to his mentor Bill Grayson about his business in detail.

Case Study: James Lund

James Lund from Ingleton, at only 21 years of age, came up with an idea of creating a calf rearing enterprise. Through the support of this project he was able to create a realistic business plan, build his experience and confidence in managing grassland and livestock and also secure a business development loan from the Princes Trust. He rented a building and some land from his family to rear cattle and is now continuing to grow his business, selling home-produced eggs and pork locally. James’ dad Malcolm says “The Farmer Network Business Support for Young People project has been invaluable for James. His knowledge of business, how he thinks and plans has been a great learning curve for him. Above all else he has proved to himself that he is capable of running his own business.” James commented “I’ve made mistakes like everyone else, but business planning is so important and I keep thinking if other people like me learn some of these skills, it can only be of benefit, especially as we move in to the unknown”.

Case Study: Henry Knowles and Hannah Storton

Henry Knowles and his partner Hannah Storton started their duck egg enterprise as a hobby and then realised that there was a demand for the eggs locally, so enquired about the Business Support Programme and attended the Explore Enterprise course to look at what would be needed to set it up as a business.

They worked with their business adviser to establish the level of investment needed to make a viable enterprise and used a ‘Will it Work’ grant to explore new markets and marketing material. After working out how to make their business idea stack up, they applied for a low interest loan to build a specially designed duck house and egg-packing room. Docker Duck Eggs are now available in many regional farm shops and Yorkshire Dales and Lake District hotels and they are always looking for new outlets to gradually grow their business.

Business Support for Young People Case Study: Lori-Jo Sharp

At only 23 years old, Lori-Jo will be one of the most experienced sheep milkers in the north of England and she has worked for the main sheep-milk cheesemaker in Cumbria since leaving school. She works as a self-employed farm-worker and has been passionate about livestock since being a little girl. She explored the sheep-milk and processing business opportunity through the Business Support Programme and has come up with a plan to gradually get into production, using the land and buildings that she can rent to develop her specialist sheep flock and to process added-value products over the next few years. She received a loan to help her to get the flock established, (50 Friesland sheep with a Laucane ram) and to buy a milking parlour, pasteuriser and cheese-vat. Lori-Jo cheeses are sold are at the Cartmel cheese shop and the Courtyard Dairy in the Yorkshire Dales. She said “The Support Programme has helped me by developing business skills and giving me the confidence to use them. It has also helped me to get in touch with key industry players and gain contacts for the start-up of my business. I have learnt valuable business planning skills that I wasn’t aware of before taking part, giving me the confidence to start up on my own doing something I have always wanted to do”.

The farmer Network

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