17 December 1998
Grants for S Devon organic co-op

SOUTH Devon Organic Producers, a co-op of 10 farmers, has been offered grants totalling about £670,000 over three years.

The group includes 100ha (250 acres) of registered organic land and a similar area currently being converted to organic status.

Initially the land will be used for growing 80 to 90 different types of organic vegetables, but eventually the group intends to expand the area involved and handle a wider organic range including dairy products, beef, lamb and wine.

Two different grants have been offered to the group: help with the first years running costs will come via the South Devon and Dartmoor Leader 2 project, and the rest is under Objective 5b.

Capital expenditure will include specialist machinery and, in the last phase, a purpose-built packhouse. Members of the group will be able to share that machinery, as well as a pool of labour. The organic standards they work to do not allow use of machinery that has been used to work non-organic soil. That rules out use of conventional contractors.

The group will also have access to expertise in organic production and marketing, packing and distribution facilities.

Project manager Joanna Field said it had taken three years of hard slog to prepare and see through the applications for the grants. The group is likely to be formally launched in the spring.