Funding helps bring farm community hub to life

Deepdale Farm at Burnham Deepdale has been pushing innovation for a few years now. Among the changes on the 300 hectare farm has been transforming to organic farming, incorporating many regenerative farming practices, carrying out ecological assessments and running volunteer programmes on the farm.

To further diversify the farm’s income stream and resilience, the team at Deepdale has been investigating ways to utilise un-used buildings across the estate. One of these buildings was an old barn which had fallen into disrepair. A plan of renovation was created with a view to providing more facilities for visitors to the farm, such as the conservation volunteers, people enrolled on countryside craft courses or as a meeting place for farming and conservation groups.

Of course, this would cost money – and lots of it – so the farm manger at Deepdale at the time, Nathan Nelson, applied for a Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) grant. A total of £18,000 was awarded, allowing the barn to be transformed into a functional space for meetings and events. Among the improvements were installing electricity, composting toilets, kitchen facilities, lights, tools and safety gear.

There are some stipulations around applying for FiPL grants: the farm must lie within a protected landscape in England, in this case the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB); or directly benefit the AONB; and it must meet one or more of the following:

Climate: The learning activities enabled a deeper understanding among farmers and the public about carbon storage and reduced carbon emissions on farmland.
Nature: The farm facilitates educational experiences that promote conservation volunteering, willow weaving and hedgerow management.
People: By providing a venue to bring in craftspeople, small businesses and other activities, the local community is involved in the project which in turn helps to contribute to the local economy.
Place: By developing previously unused farm buildings, the quality and character of the landscape is reinforced in the AONB.

FiPL Advisor for the Norfolk Coast AONB / Protected Landscape is Ed Stocker and he is keen to talk to anyone about FiPL grants for projects. The fund extends to farmers and land managers from the public, private and charity sectors. The programme has been extended to March 2025. Ed can be contacted on: edward.stocker@norfolk.gov.uk