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Neighbouring couples join forces to develop farm shop

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

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Two couples from Boscastle have begun a development project to build a farm shop with an interactive learning centre, on National Trust land.

The scheme was the brainchild of Mark and Nikki Collings, who are working with neighbours Robin and Jackie Haddy on the project, which they anticipate will create an initial five jobs when the shop opens for business in the spring.

The Collings had identified a strip of scrub land adjacent to the farmhouse they acquired from the National Trust, which forms part of 60 acres of land still owned by the trust and farmed by Robin and Jackie.

Both couples already run small-scale farm shops, but working together, developed a vision for something on a grander scale.

The sustainably built, open-plan farm shop and cafe, will also include a work space accommodating IT equipment, to enable local schoolchildren and visitors to learn more about the food they eat, from field, to fork, to plate. The shop will also include a butchery department, where beef from the Haddy's Ruby Reds herd will be prepared and sold, plus a commercial kitchen producing lines made from locally sourced ingredients. It is hoped this side of the business may evolve into a spin-out brand, sold into other businesses.

The couples also plan to initially source produce from around 10 other local suppliers.

Building is currently under way, with Bude-based Vanstone undertaking the job.

The project will also see the re-routing of a coastal footpath in a move that it is hoped will drive business to its door and has seen the cooperation of the National Trust and South West Coastlines. "They have all been extremely positive about the idea," said Mr Collings.

In the three years since the project's initial inception, the couples have been supported by the Rural Focus service, which is delivered across the South West by Peninsula Enterprise. Its consultants also guided the couples towards funding channels, which resulted in them securing a £163,000 grant investment from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

Mr Collings said: "The aim is to employ local staff and we will also look at marketing online."

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