New project to bear fruit

TEMPTING summer fruits will be available to Suffolk villagers after a farm revealed today that it is branching out – thanks to a government grant.High House Fruit Farm, in Sudbourne, near Woodbridge, has been given a Rural Enterprise Scheme grant from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs to provide fresh seasonal fruit for neighbouring towns and villages.

TEMPTING summer fruits will be available to Suffolk villagers after a farm revealed today that it is branching out – thanks to a government grant.

High House Fruit Farm, in Sudbourne, near Woodbridge, has been given a Rural Enterprise Scheme grant from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs to provide fresh seasonal fruit for neighbouring towns and villages.

The undisclosed sum has helped fund renovations of the farm shop, build some cold storage, purchase a delivery van, and to promote the business.

It is hoped the local economy by will also benefit from the business generated and the extra seasonal jobs.

The project, called "Local Food for Local People", aims to provide fresh produce for Sudbourne, Orford, Aldeburgh, Wickhan Market, Woodbridge and surrounding villages.

Farmer Piers Pool said: "We now have the nucleus of a viable and sustainable business for the future that would not have been possible without the support provided from Defra.

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"We can now build on our existing business and we will have cherries, plums and blackcurrants available for the first time this summer."

"There is a growing demand for our products, such as apples, asparagus, loganberries, blackberries, redcurrants and gooseberries, and we are confident that this will continue.

The produce is available at the farm gate and through outlets within a 12-mile radius of the farm.

David Sillet, senior advisor with Defra's rural development service which administers the scheme, said: "The Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES) is a wide-ranging scheme which aims to help rural economies and communities by supporting new business opportunities.

There is no maximum or minimum project size under RES, and High House Fruit Farm is a good example of a relatively small project that has developed very successfully. We are very pleased to support this project because it brings benefits not just to the farmer but to customers who have fresh local produce available on their doorstep."

N Defra is currently running a series of clinics in Suffolk to provide advice for anyone wishing to make an application for funding. The next one will be at Defra's offices in Bury St Edmunds on April 23. For further information contact Sharon Sharpe at the Rural Development Service, Cambridge, on 01223 455627.

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