AONB To Fund Scilly’s Farmers’ Initiative As Small Grants Scrapped

A farm walk organised by the group

A farm walk organised by the group

Small grants handed out by Scilly’s AONB are likely to be scrapped next year.

The Council’s Director of Place Craig Dryden has told councillors that the Strategic Development Fund will invest in a single, large project, aligned to the AONB’s objectives.

Craig said the majority of the £25,000 pot for 2014, provided by Defra, will to go to the Farmer’s and Growers’ Initiative.

That group will meet at Trenoweth to discuss the award today.

Group Chairman Ben Julian says it’s “brilliant news.” He says that the organisation doesn’t cost a lot to run, but they were facing the prospect of having to close down at the end of the year if they didn’t find funding.

Now he hopes they can continue with group buying schemes, bringing over experts for farming advice talks and the popular farm walks, where farms are opened up to other growers to learn new techniques.

But Cllr Christine Savill said it was “regrettable” that the small grants were going.

She said in previous years the money had helped several groups, which benefitted the community and the environment.

Cllr Richard McCarthy, who sits on the AONB’s Advisory Board, said the size of the fund has dropped significantly in recent years, from a high of around £50,000.

He said spreading it out over several projects wasn’t cost effective because of the administration involved, although he understood the decision would be reviewed next year.