2007-2013 Project Case Studies
Rosedown Eggs is a family owned farm business run by David and Julie Hewitt specialising in the production and processing of free range and enriched colony system eggs. The business has increased its egg laying stock over a 10 year period at Rosedown Farm at St Wenn near Bodmin.
In order to increase production of eggs and to comply with newly implemented animal welfare legislation the operations at Rosedown required a significant re-structure to enable a step change in capacity and business performance.
The business invested in excess of £300,000 privately to up grade egg production units which would result in an increase in production capacity of approximately 60%.
The new production units were encased in composite panels with a state of the art ventilation system installed. The panels keep the production unit insulated and maintain an optimum temperate year round, minimising energy and feed costs.
As a result of increased production capacity the grading and processing facilities were no longer fit for purpose.
An RDPE grant of £50,537 was sought to support the costs of a new processing unit and associated infrastructure to transfer eggs from the production unit into the processing facility. The grant was awarded through the programme measure for ‘adding value to primary produce’.
Main outputs/outcomes of funding:
- The investment enabled the business to reduce the time required for grading and processing eggs by 24 hours resulting in fresher eggs.
- The equipment reduced wastage and improved the consistency and quality of eggs.
- The investment created 3 full time employment opportunities at Rosedown as well as additional work within businesses that produce and supply to the business.
- The additional infrastructure removed repetitive bending required for egg collection, improving working conditions for existing and new staff.
- Improved quality assurance procedures enabling the business to take steps towards becoming a Lion Quality Registered Premises.
- Enabled the business to remain competitive in the market place and continue to provide local producers with a fair price for their eggs.
Emma Kehyaian, Project Development Officer within Cornwall Development Company’s Rural Delivery Team worked with the business to shape the project and establish which elements of the investment would be supported by the RDPE. Assistance was provided in creating the business plan, completing financial budgets and projections and ensuring all procurement requirements were fulfilled.
Inspired ideas are set to become reality as the team at Cornish Orchards embark upon exciting expansion developments. A 3 year programme of investment will target the re-structure of buildings and infrastructure, increase processing, fermentation and storage capacity, develop sustainable waste management systems and grow a strong and specialist work force.
The £1.7 million project was approved for support by the South West Regional Development Agency, with a £834,000 funding contribution awarded to the business from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
The plans for re-structuring the Westnorth Manor Farm site (part of the Duchy of Cornwall Estate in South East Cornwall) are the brainchild of former dairy farmer and MD of Cornish Orchards, Andy Atkinson. The evidence base and business plan for the project were generated with assistance from Ruth Huxley at Cornwall Food and Drink Ltd and support throughout the RDPE process was provided by Cornwall Agri-food Council.
Business growth at Cornish Orchards has been carefully and consistently managed by Andy over the past 5 years, despite tough economic conditions. The integrity of the hand crafted products and dedication to sourcing best quality local apples remain the company’s most valuable asset.
On hearing news of the grant approval Andy commented ‘ Cornish Orchards can now implement a programme of strategic investments that could not have otherwise been achieved within the time frame that grant funding allows. This will enable us to optimise on market opportunities at the right time for us and to continue developing and refining new products to meet the exacting requirements of our customers’.
The team at Cornish Orchards are committed to the principles of sustainable business growth which are integral to business values and ethos. Andy provides a top down driving force behind this approach, explaining ‘much of our business approach is borne from a close interaction with the land through farming practices, it is our key goal to use resources thoughtfully and to replenish what we take from the land. The current expansion proposal is no exception and will allow us to take greater steps to minimise our impact’.
The project will encourage and promote orchard regeneration in the South West, a topic championed by a range of conversation organisations including the National Trust. Inevitably, the increased tonnage of apples required to meet predicted sales of both draught and bottled ciders will increase demand for apples and ultimately new orchard planting capacity. Currently 350 tonnes of West Country apples are pressed annually; this is set to rise to at least 700 tonnes in the next two years.
A total containment wetland water system will be developed as a practical and cost-effective way of dealing with waste water. The planting of trees, shrubs and plants to utilise nutrients in and alongside the ponds will create a significant wildlife area, increasing the farms bio-diversity.
Along with investment in infrastructure and resource management, Andy identifies the significant benefits to both company and staff in developing strong skills within the team. Currently Cornish Orchards employs 18 full and part time staff members with ages ranging from 18 to 70, most coming from communities close to the farm.
The investment will lead to the creation of 7 new jobs.
In the past 6-12 months alone the team have completed sales and market courses, food safety and HACCP, all supported by the Key Sectors Food and Drink Project. The newly appointed production manager has also attended industry specific training at the Cider Academy in Worcestershire to gain insight into cutting edge techniques and approaches.
The programme of investment will address business performance holistically and look to make changes that will be effective in the long term.
The business has expanded from just one apple juice product in 2006 to over 30 cider and juice products currently so who can predict where Cornish Orchards will be in 5 years from now?…
A tasty product to boost the reputation of Cornwall's locally-grown produce has gone on sale across the county. The Cornish Crisp Company Ltd set up earlier this year in Kelly Bray near Callington - with the aim of 100,000 packets of crisps coming off the production line in 2009.
After months of research and planning, the project was made possible following the award of a £120,000 business grant from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE)
The venture is the brainchild of public relations consultant Sue Wolstenholme, who decided that the good reputation of Cornish potatoes should not be restricted to crops straight from the fields, but could be used for high-quality processed foods as well.
The company employs four full-time staff and sources all its potatoes from a nearby farm in Liskeard. Sue, who runs Ashley Public Relations, said: "We have been working closely with the farmer and testing out different varieties to ensure we have a constant supply of locally grown potatoes all year round. We now have a product we are really pleased with and have been getting samples out to farm shops, delis, pubs and hotels and the orders are steadily coming back in now from all over the southwest.’ Sue continued: “We are currently in discussion with a locally based packaging company who are looking to invest in the right equipment to make our crisp packaging. It is a wonderful sign of confidence in us and a great by-product of RDPE funding, when other businesses are inspired to expand and adapt to create more locally based jobs.”
Waste sunflower oil from crisp frying is currently sold to a Devon based bio-diesel company but next year the company hopes to develop their own bio-diesel plant so the fuel can be recycled on-site and used for company and staff vehicles. The Cornish Crisp Company also has a policy of buying recycled office supplies, fairtrade teas and coffees and also has a green electricity tariff and a local buying policy. Rob Hatt, head of food and rural affairs at the South West RDA - which manages RDPE in the region - said: "This is a really interesting project, providing extra employment, benefitting local growers and further strengthening the region's reputation as a producer of quality food.
The Cornish Crisp Company also supports the Cornwall Community Foundation, Surfers Against Sewage and The Hall for Cornwall by donating 1p from every designated packet sold, to the Cornish charities. Web: www.thecornishcrisp.co.uk Tel: 01579 383332 Email: email@example.com
“This project has been part funded by the Rural Development Programme for England which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development ( Europe investing in Rural Areas) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.”