How The Prince's Countryside Fund has allowed Hampshire businesses to build and provide for the community
PUBLISHED: 15:17 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:09 14 January 2014
Nick Snelgar and his family have not only been able to build their own business with help from the Prince's Countryside Fund, but they are now providing an essential commodity to their local community and beyond
To donate to The Prince’s Countryside Fund, please go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/archant
In 2004, Nick Snelgar was the founder of an organisation called Future Farms in Martin, near Fordingbridge, which is a not-for-profit community-based food business that produces its own food for its own village.
After seven years of success with Future Farms, Nick decided to start another journey and commenced on a separate, early stage community interest company called Maple Field Milk. Backed by the Prince’s Countryside Fund and with a grant of £45,000, Nick was able to realise his dream of running a dairy for his local area. He says: “One of the things we didn’t have in Future Farms was a dairy and it was always something that I wanted to achieve. Although I am a horticulturalist by trade, I did go to agricultural college and spent a few years working as a relief milkman in Purbeck before travelling to the USA to work on a dairy farm; and so I knew something about the industry.
”Nick was able to purchase four acres of pasture and the money from the PCF enabled him to construct a state of the art processing plant and milking bail as well as full training in pasteurisation. He now has three cows of his own and is looking to purchase another 12 to form a micro herd. He explains: “I wanted to prove there was a market there before investing in more cows so I approached nearby family run Whitey Top Farm, which has a herd managed by a young girl, Hannah White (23). Three times a week I go to them to pick up their milk, take it back to our unit, pasteurise it and
then distribute it. They get a good price and they know that their precious commodity is going down the throats of all the local people living around their farm – it’s a win, win situation.”
Now that Maple Field Milk has been running for two years, Nick has seen his distribution grow from just five outlets to 20. Restaurants and pubs within the local area are continuing to embrace the initiative and many of the local stores within 10 miles of Fordingbridge are selling the milk to their customers.
From an initial grant, Nick has been able to turn a profit and is now investing this in marketing tools such as a new website, which will allow people to find out more about Maple Field Milk and where they can buy it. He says: “We now have other people asking for us to build them a milking bail like ours, which we built from scratch, so the PCF grant is continuing to make an impact. They were excellent to deal with and we do all we can to promote them to thank them for the support in which they gave to us when we needed it.”