Wyre Forest inspire farmers and producers

Businesses in The Wyre Forest are set to showcase their enterprises and share their knowledge with interested farmers and growers from across the region next month, as they open their doors for three Farming and Food Enterprise Development Project (FFED) events. The FFED project is aimed at individuals and businesses producing, retailing or serving home grown and farm produced foods directly to the consumer.

The Wyre Forest, which was once a medieval hunting ground is now popular with tourists and home to many exciting rural enterprises. Uncllys Farm which is hosting two of the events, is an excellent example of a farm that is working in cooperation with organisations such as Natural England and the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust to graze traditional livestock breeds over 13 acres of pasture, orchard and woodland. The meat is then sold directly to consumers.

John Iles of Uncllys Farm and farm manager Mark Cleaver will be sharing their skills and experience with other farmers. The first event focuses on meat retailing and will provide farmer’s with all the information they need to start selling their meat directly to the public. An expert will be on hand to talk through all the requirements of direct sales on Tuesday 22nd June, 9.30-3.30pm, covering everything from legislation to pricing and packaging to customer care.

John, of Uncllys Farm states "When we started selling meat directly nearly five years ago, much of the inspiration came from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. We hope we can share what we have learnt with others on these practical events".

Adding Value to meat will be the topic for the second event which will take place on Wednesday 23rd June 2010, again between 9.30am and 3.30pm. The day will include practical demonstrations from an expert butcher of various techniques including traditional sausage making and bacon curing, as well as creating artisan products such as cured hams and pastrami’s.

The concluding event invites participants to ’Walk the Supply Chain’, allowing farmers and producers to visit the pigs within the woodland and finally a small charcuterie. The charcuterie is still in its early stages and run by Sally Levell and her husband Jeremy. "We have a smallholding comprising of 12 acres at Bell Farm and have kept rare breed pigs for 5 years. The pigs are a proven woodland management tool in the Wyre Forest and the meat is then used in the charcuterie enterprise to produce terrines, hams, bacons and salamis from old and traditional methods" states Sally.

The farm walk event will take place on Monday 28th June starting at 3.00pm with a visit to the charcuterie where Sally will be sharing her knowledge and experiences so far with interested farmers and producers. The group will then visit the woodland to see the grazing pigs followed by a local supper, during which there will be the opportunity for discussion, sharing ideas and innovation from attendees.

Accredited business advisors Nick Platt and Julie White of Growing Rural Enterprise Ltd are delivering the project in association with Heart of England fine foods, the regional food group. Accredited business advisor, Julie White is inviting farmers and growers to get involved.

"These events are an enjoyable, informal way of learning about how other businesses operate" states Julie White of Growing Rural Enterprise Ltd. "The forthcoming Wyre Forest events provide an opportunity to learn from businesses already adding value to their produce and creating a fantastic range of artisan products".

The project is funded by LandSkills West Midlands as part of the Rural Development Programme for England. LandSkills West Midlands is managed by Lantra on behalf of Advantage West Midlands. A diverse range of practical events will take place across the West Midlands with the aim of highlighting and sharing good practice, whilst encouraging the discussion of ideas, challenges and opportunities. Grow with Wyre can also offer further business support to businesses throughout the forest area, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Farmers from across the West Midlands are invited to participate and learn from the example of the Wyre Forest. Car sharing may be an option from your area. For further information on the Farming and Food Enterprise Development Project please contact Julie White at Growing Rural Enterprise Ltd on 07971 666474, email Julie@growingruralenterprise.co.uk or visit www.growingruralenterprise.co.uk for further details. Places are limited therefore booking is essential. Cost is £28 per person including VAT.