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03.05.06
Bright future for Happy Hen

From left: Business Link's Marilyn Pryor with Gerald and Julie Allerton at the Happy Hen farm shopBusiness is booming for an East Cornwall couple who have successfully diversified their smallholding to create a new business serving locally sourced produce and meat.

Gerald and Julie Allerton opened the Happy Hen farm shop three months ago and in that time have seen a five-fold increase in sales. The couple have been rearing Aberdeen Angus cattle and chickens at Caradon Farm, Pensilva for the past nine years but like many smallholders, were finding it difficult to make the business financially viable. They sought advice from Business Link Devon and Cornwall after getting in touch with them last year and received capital grant funding to build the new shop and a fast track grant to invest in new butchery equipment.

Gerald said: "The equipment for the butchery was essential for the business, as one of our most successful products is our sausages. We sell about 150lbs per week of our 'pork and leek' and 'rosemary and thyme' sausages and are now in the process of developing our own secret recipe! The pork that we are selling currently is sourced in Launceston and the vegetables are from Looe but in the future we would like to start producing our own pork. We've reared Tamworth pigs in the past and would like to start doing that commercially on the farm. In the summer we will also be extending our stock to include seasonal vegetables and pot herbs which we will source from within the village."

Gerald continued: "The process of setting up the shop was made so much easier with the help we received from Business Link. They advised us on exactly what information was needed and how to present it, in fact it was the most painless grant application we've ever made and once the grant funding was in place the bank began to listen and things really got moving."

Business Link's Rural Diversification Capital Grant contract manager, Marilyn Pryor said: "The business is increasing sales week on week and that is purely on word of mouth recommendations. Gerald and Julie are now getting some additional help from Business Link with marketing and branding for the products and I'm sure the business will be even more successful once that is established. Over the next couple of years Happy Hen is looking to increase its product range and hopefully the business will be bringing some new jobs to the area as it grows in size."

She continued: "To diversify successfully, it is important to evaluate the strengths and assets that you already have. The Allertons have an obvious love and passion for producing and supplying quality, local food which is one reason the shop is already so popular."

Gerald concluded: "Our customers always comment on the freshness and taste of the food we sell; the eggs on sale during the day are gathered the same morning; the beef is always properly hung and matured and the pork is totally fresh. With the shop and the new facilities there are not enough hours in the day to produce as much as we can sell - which is exactly the position we wanted to be in."

For further information please contact Maxine McAdams of the Marketing-PR company on 01566 771862 or email mmcadams@marketing-pr.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Rural Diversification Capital Grant Initiative through the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin Butler, at Government Office South West on 01752 635134 before commencing development as there are now only limited funds available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

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Editor's notes:

The Rural Diversification Capital Grant Initiative helps farms and other rural related businesses to diversify their commercial activities through a combination of grants and advice.

It is one of the support schemes aimed at helping rural and land based businesses across Devon, Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly and administered by the Business Link Agricultural Team. Others include:

• Cornwall Food and Drink Partnership scheme
• Rural Business Support Initiative
• Rural Enterprise Gateway (South West)
• Rural Enterprise Facilitation Scheme
• Rural Directory

Business Link provides a free information and enquiry service via an information gateway on the web www.bldc.co.uk and via the telephone on 0845 600 9966 to all businesses and those considering starting a business. Additionally It provides impartial business advice and support through a network of partner organisations, which it co-ordinates, and a register of independent business practitioners. Business Link for Devon and Cornwall delivers the national Business Link service to the region under contract from the South West RDA.

Business Link has received Objective One investment (European Regional Development Fund and EAGGF) to help companies improve performance and grow.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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