TWO popular food producers have received a welcome funding boost to help them expand and improve their businesses.

Forest Deli in Coleford and Plump Hill Farm in Longhope have been granted over £22,000 in Rural Business Grant funding to make improvements.

The funding, which the firms applied to the council for last year, will be used for a range of things including the expansion of growing space, renewable electricity and security systems.

The grant was established after the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) identified the Forest of Dean as an eligible location for its Rural England Prosperity Fund, which aims to help rural businesses improve their productivity.

Councillor Johnathan Lane, Cabinet Member for the Economy, said: “We have some fantastic local businesses in the Forest of Dean and, as a council, we’re always looking at more ways to support them. So, it’s brilliant to be able to offer more funding through the Rural England Prosperity Fund. 

“Both of these businesses are key to their local community and the Forest of Dean’s diverse economy so, it’s great to be able to award both this funding.” 

In Autumn last year, both businesses took part in an open expression of interest process and were successfully chosen by an application panel.

Plump Hill Farm in Longhope, which specialises in farming and food production, will use the grant to install a solar system and security cameras for their off-grid farm to improve the safety and welfare of their animals. 

Forest Deli in Coleford will use their grant to expand the sale of their own branded products and to significantly increase the area they use to grow their ingredients, whilst also improving their kitchen and equipment.

The council says it will be following the journey of both businesses as they begin to use the grant to make improvements.

Following the award, Forest Deli owners Simon and Debbie Jones posted to their website that they were “delighted” to receive the grant, which will enable them to fast-track their expansion plans which would otherwise have taken years.

They said: “We’re already working hard to launch new products and start lots of growing as soon as possible.

“Debbie is creating and testing new recipes and Simon is busy planning raised bed layouts, making seed selections and planning which fruit and vegetables to grow.

“The best bit about being able to grow our own is that we will be able to limit food miles to an electric-powered 1 mile from the garden to the shop!

“We’ll be working with the seasons, growing what we know we will use, always ensuring zero food waste.

“Without this award we really wouldn’t be able to achieve what we’re hoping to achieve in the coming year (this was very much a three year goal which is now an imminent reality!).

“For you, this means exciting new Forest Deli foodie delights heading your way very soon.

“As has been the case since we started making our own products, a portion of the profits of all of our Forest Deli branded food will be donated to the Forest Foodbank.

“We’ll keep you posted as things develop (and grow) – watch this space!”

For other business owners looking to expand, another round of applications for the grant opens today (Wednesday, January 24).

Information on how to apply, can be found here.