This evening I attended the Southern Dorset Local Action Group Autumn Forum at Wareham. The function of the LAG is to allocate getting on for £500,000 worth of EU funding for local rural development projects that tick the right boxes. I was pleased to be re-elected to the Executive, which makes the decisions (usually following the recommendations of the admin team from Dorset County Council, the Accountable Body).
We received brief presentations from Outline Applicants with whom we could then have an informal chat around the table.
The first was from a chap who wants to diversify his business by setting up a wood fuel supply project, starting with his family farm’s woodland but spreading over a wider area over time. I told him of DEFRA’s current investigation into the future of forestry and woodland (closing date for comments 18th October) of which I am aware through membership of the Local Access Forum (it can be confusing being a member of both the LAG and the LAF!).
The next presentation was by Fiona Hunt who wants to set up a soap making business using natural products and is seeking funding to construct a workshop and purchase equipment. I piped up and declared my interest as a beekeeper and potential supplier of wax for soap making. I also mentioned Sara Robb’s workshop on soap making at the National Honey Show. As we were about to leave at the end of the meeting, Fiona asked for my contact details so we could go into this in more depth, so I gave her my card.
The third presentation was by James Gregory who helps run a charity called Young Dorset and wants to develop opportunities for young people at a new care farm. Having heard that I’m beekeeper, he told me that there are a couple of hives on the site already and he’d like to expand the numbers and get the youngsters involved. I suggested that he get in touch with local BKA and we exchanged cards so I hope that there may be some mutual benefit for the youngsters and for the BKA.