AN alliance with the Fresh Start Academy has been forged by West Somerset Council to bring a ground-breaking farming initiative to the district.
The project will encourage young people looking for careers in farming and will also help established farmers diversify and expand their businesses.
Anybody involved in farming, or who wants to start a career in agriculture, is invited to the launch of the Somerset Fresh Start Academy at Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre at 7 pm on January 22.
Keynote speakers at the launch will be John Alvis, from Alvis Brothers cheesemakers, and Ian Trumain, a successful agribusiness entrepreneur.
Fresh Start is an initiative led by the farming industry and supported by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
It aims to help farmers understand more about the business side of running a farm, following a programme suggested by academy members.
Council economic development portfolio holder Councillor Michael Downes said: “Now, more than ever, local businesses involved in rural enterprises could do with business support and information.
“We are aware that farmers need dedicated support and training which is tailored to their individual needs, and we are proud to be involved with this excellent initiative.”
Somerset Fresh Start Academy co-ordinator Jonathan Lacey said: “Fresh Start Academies have been operating successfully at various colleges around the country for the last two years.
“They have helped new entrants and established farmers gain the knowledge and confidence required to commence new and grow existing businesses.
“The annual programmes are structured around the requirements of the members from suggestions made at the outset.
“In addition, the academies enable good contacts within the industry to be developed locally, hence providing opportunities for new entrants to obtain valuable advice from mentors where appropriate.
“We will be starting Somerset’s first Fresh Start Academy in January, and look forward to meeting as many people as possible at the launch on January 22.”
More information about Fresh Start Academies is available by visiting www.defra.gov.uk/farm/working/new-entrants/freshstart or by contacting either Jonathan Lacey on 01458 223224 and email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jeremy Kerswell, Bridgewater College head of land based studies, on 01278 655001 or email