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28.03.03
Objective One to help consumers connect with countryside

Three brothers farming 800 acres around the famous Lost Gardens of Heligan will soon be selling their high quality beef and lamb to a potential captive market of 463,000 visitors a year, thanks to a £100,000 investment from Objective One. This project will invest in excess of £300,000 over the next three years to create a countryside interpretation centre and farm shop within Heligan's car park, which without investment from Objective One, would not have been possible.

The project will inform visitors about the important role farming plays in safeguarding Cornwall's rural environment while creating new jobs and new markets for local produce.

Terry, Ian and Richard Lobb, who between them manage Kestle Farm near St Austell, aim to reconnect consumers with the countryside by using displays in the purpose-built centre to show visitors the benefits of managing the farm in an environmentally sustainable and welfare conscious way.

After finding out about Kestle Farm and how its farm animals and wildlife are managed, visitors will be able to purchase top quality beef and lamb reared on the farm from the adjacent farm shop, which will also sell a wide range of locally sourced products.

The project will create at least 10 new jobs and generate a projected £672,000 in additional sales within the next three years. The centre hopes to open its doors to the public in June, with building work on the Cornish barn style building now well underway.

The Objective One investment will also enable visitors to get even closer to the animals on farm tours conducted on a specially constructed trailer, which will be pulled by a four-wheel drive tractor.

Explaining the reason behind the project, Ian Lobb said: "Over recent years visitors to the Lost Gardens of Heligan have shown an increasing interest in the animals grazing the surrounding fields and we have worked closely with The Lost Gardens to produce information boards so that the public can find out more about how we care for our animals.

"The creation of a purpose built farm interpretation centre and farm shop seemed like the obvious next step in informing the public about the need for responsible and sustainable farming methods that we endeavour to practice, while creating an outlet from which we and other producers can sell our produce, giving a much-needed boost to local agriculture.

"The funding from Objective One was vital towards the creation of this project and is enabling us to build a high quality building that is complementary to the surrounding countryside and gardens in which to sell and promote our high quality products."

Objective One programme director Carleen Kelemen said the project was an example of how Objective One money was being used to cultivate Cornwall's distinctiveness: "We are committed to investing in projects like this that capitalise on the region's distinctive resources in a sustainable way. The creation of a farm interpretation centre is an innovative approach to educating consumers about farming practices and countryside issues, while the new shop stimulates demand for products grown and produced locally. This in turn generates new jobs and more income for the local agricultural sector, which is what Objective One is all about."

Peter Stafford, Managing Director of The Lost Gardens of Heligan said: "Here at Heligan we are exploring the complex relationships between where our food comes from, how it was produced and how it got to the plate.

"The three Lobb brothers have been working with us for a number of years as managers of the farming part of our project. We have now joined forces to run a farm shop and interpretation centre which will enable visitors and residents to buy local produce and to have the story of the land and the food it produces brought to them in an interesting and stimulating way.

"A visit to Heligan will offer an opportunity to explore a unique insight into the history of our food and how we produce our food today. We are all accountable for our food chain if by nothing other than by choice alone. Visitors will be able to emotionally and physically experience the concepts of food production as they watch it grow in the gardens and wildlife abundant farmland, sample it in the Restaurant before buying it from the shop to take home."

The £398,473 project has been part funded with £99,618 from the Objective One European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, (EAGGF) which has been equally match funded by DEFRA with the remaining money coming from the private sector.

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Editor's notes:

European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF)

EAGGF is one of the four funds that make up the Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, which is making £314 million available to support the local economy between 2000 and 2006.

EAGGF aims to:

• Help preserve the link between diversified farming and the land.

• Improve and support the competitiveness of agriculture as a key activity in rural areas.

• Ensure the diversification of the economy in rural areas.

• Help to keep thriving communities in rural areas.

• Preserve and improve the environment, the landscape and the rural heritage.

For further information contact:
Ian Lobb
Kestle Farm
01726 844088

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Jason Clark
Communications Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388
jason@dclark.co.uk

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