Funding aid available for ‘environmentally-friendly’ farmers

Interest-free loans of up to £25,000 are being offered to organic farmers to fund investments in equipment and livestock.

The Dean Organic Fund, which is making the loans available, is urging farmers to apply.

The not-for-profit fund, administered by the Organic Research Centre (ORC), says people who farm organically or in other environmentally friendly ways should apply.

In previous funding rounds, loans have been given for on-farm meat processing and expansion by vegetable producers.

Money has also been used to develop farm shops and to invest in organic chicken production systems.

At Albury, on a family-run biodynamic vineyard in the Surrey Hills, a loan funded the cost of a vine trimmer.

Owner Nick Wenman said that until then canopy management was carried out by hand, but had been inefficient and time consuming.

“We first used the vine-trimmer in 2018 and it played a significant role in us being able to properly ripen what was our largest ever harvest,’’ he said.

“It also helped prevent disease by making sure that the canopy was not too dense.’’

The Dean Organic Fund was established following a bequest of more than £500,000 to the ORC from Jennie Bone, whose ambition was to support the conservation in the farmed environment by providing interest-free loans to organic producers.