As a farmer himself, The Prince of Wales cares deeply about the countryside and the welfare of rural communities.
Maintaining a healthy agricultural sector is vital to the country, not just because the landscape relies on the accumulated knowledge of farming communities for its continued stewardship, but also because the social fabric of the countryside depends on a strong farming base.
The Prince’s belief in the importance of the family farm in agriculture has led him to initiate a number of initiatives to help readdress the problems faced by communities in the countryside.
As Duke of Cornwall, The Prince is responsible for the management of a landed estate with many tenant farmers. He is Chairman of The Prince's Council, the supervisory body of the Duchy of Cornwall. The Prince puts a high priority on safeguarding the interests of Duchy tenants, and on long-term environmental stewardship, and regularly visits farms and tenants.
The Prince runs the Duchy Home Farm on the Highgrove Estate, a fully functioning organic farm. It acts as a show case for organic farming and regular tours are run for those thinking of converting to organic land management, supermarket buyers and others with an interest in the practicalities of organics. The Prince founded Duchy Originals to show that there was a market for organic products created using the principles of sustainable production.
The Prince is Patron of a number of organisations that seek to preserve rural communities and protect British agriculture including Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society, Dry Stone Walling Association, Lleyn Sheep Society, National Hedgelaying Society, Poultry Club of Great Britain, Rare Breeds Survival Trust, Royal Agricultural Society of England and the Welsh Black Cattle Society.
He is also Patron of the Soil Association and Garden Organic, both of which encourage organic farming and gardening.
The Prince’s concern for farmers all over the UK has led to His Royal Highness starting several initiatives to promote the produce of certain areas in the hope of increasing farmer’s incomes and preserving their way of life.
The Mutton Renaissance initiative was created by The Prince after he met with sheep farmers in the Borders who were struggling to get a decent price for their two-year-old ewes. The Prince felt that by reviving the popularity of the meat from these sheep, known as mutton, it would help struggling family farms survive.
The Campaign for Wool was launched by The Prince in 2010, again to help struggling sheep farmers who were receiving nothing for the fleece from their sheep. The Campaign for Wool aims to promote the clear benefits of wool over synthetic fabrics and create more demand and help sheep farmers get a better return.
Rural Action Programme
The Prince was the driving force behind Business in the Community's Rural Action Programme which aims to support rural communities and to inspire business to make a positive impact through the way they operate.
Under the direction of a group of senior business leaders, the programme focuses on the following three areas:
- The future of British food and farming - The Prince is responsible for launching various initiatives to help farmers, particularly struggling hill farmers, better market their produce. Grouped together under the banner of The Prince’s Farmers Marketing Initiatives, they include such projects as Peak Choice, Dartmoor Farmers, the Cambrian Mountain initiative and the North Highland Initiative. Business in the Community is currently working with partners on a programme to attract young people into the agricultural industry. Through the Energy from Waste initiative, Business in the Community is encouraging the involvement of business to see the benefits of renewable energy technologies such as anerobic digestion, a process which creates energy and fuel from waste products.
- Sustainable rural communities - In many rural communities, there is a shortage of affordable housing for local people. The consequences are often severe, with families, young people and local employees having to move out of the area to seek more affordable housing elsewhere. Adequate provision of affordable housing is essential to sustaining rural communities both in providing a local work force and ability to maintain local services and in helping maintain a mix of residents in terms of age, skills and needs. The Prince launched the Affordable Rural Housing Initiative in June 2003 with the aim of engaging the private sector in the provision of affordable homes in rural communities. He launched the first new affordable housing scheme on Duchy of Cornwall land in Oxfordshire in 2008. Led by Business in the Community the initiative has been successful in encouraging businesses including landowners, property owners, housebuilders, developers and lenders to explore opportunities to deliver affordable housing.
- Maintaining the Countryside - In July 2010, The Prince of Wales launched The Prince’s Countryside Fund, a unique collaboration of businesses working together to secure a sustainable future for British agriculture and the wider rural economy. The fund has three core objectives: to improve the sustainability of British farming and rural communities; reconnecting consumers with countryside issues; and to support farming crisis charities through a dedicated emergency funding system. The participating companies of the fund display The Prince’s Countryside Fund logo on their products.
The Prince's Countryside Fund
The Prince’s Countryside Fund gives grants to projects the support the people who care for the countryside. Launched in 2010 by HRH The Prince of Wales it has given away nearly £4.4 million to 105 projects across the UK helping more than 80,000 people.
What makes the Fund unique is that it does not support the environment, buildings or wildlife but the people who manage, maintain and care for the countryside.
Its main aim is to encourage the general public to understand the importance of people, to the countryside they love and enjoy. Each July it organises National Countryside Week to celebrate the countryside and showcase the range of projects it is supporting around the UK.
The Fund tackles five key issues:
• Rural Isolation
• Low Farming Incomes
• Decline of Rural Communities
• Lack of access to training
• Disconnect with the countryside
Projects supported by the Fund are:
• Improving service provision in rural areas
• Supporting farming businesses
• Supporting rural enterprise
• Providing training opportunities for young people
• Educating people about the value of the countryside
Over 140 rural communities have benefited, 880 rural enterprises and 3,400 farm businesses have been supported and 4,380 young people have received training opportunities from apprenticeship schemes in hill farming to training in rural skills such as hedge laying. In addition over 35,000 individuals have had the opportunity to improve their understanding of the value of the countryside including 18,000 children who have been given access to farms or learning in school.
The Fund has also given over £670,000 in emergency funding to the Farming Help charities providing immediate financial support in times of crisis like the flooding in 2013/14.
The majority of its funds are from supporting businesses that pay a fee via a brand licensing agreement to use The Prince’s Countryside Fund logo on products, packaging and marketing materials. The Fund is currently working with 24 companies and a growing number of businesses are also involved in a Tourism Initiative to encourage donations from visitors to the countryside.
For more information visit www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk or contact by telephone 020 7566 8797 or email email@example.com
Business in the Community run a number of successful programmes designed to manage and sustain mutually-beneficial, strong relationships between business and rural enterprise. The programmes under this banner include:
- The Pub is the Hub which encourages country pubs to diversify, providing a range of services needed in the local community;
- The Prince of Wales's Seeing is Believing Programme which gives senior business leaders the opportunity to visit a number of community projects and explore contemporary social issues and what business can do to help;
- Rural ProHelp, a national network of Professional Firms who are committed to providing free professional advice and strategic support to community organisations.
The Prince of Wales's Rural Revival Initiative (RRI)
Launched in 1999, The Prince of Wales's Rural Revival Initiative (RRI) stems from The Prince’s concern that the disadvantage experienced by many people in rural areas is not easily understood or recognised. The initiative was based on the belief that local innovative solutions are needed to overcome problems of rural isolation and that many others will benefit through sharing experience and the lessons learned:
- Dale Action for Local Enterprise (DALE) - DALE aims to enable new business start-ups by previously unemployed or underemployed young people in the Yorkshire Dales National Park by aiming to reduce the drift of population away from the area by demonstrating the possibilities for local employment.
- The Northern Fells Rural Project - Based on seven parishes in the Northern Fells, a remote area of upland Cumbria, the project focuses on identifying the unmet health and social needs of rural residents particularly the elderly and the young, people with disabilities, carers, young parents, unemployed people and those on low income or without their own transport. Its successful initiatives include a minibus service driven by volunteer drivers, workshops for teenagers on childcare, basic life support, cookery and mechanics, and a benefits advice scheme.
- YP2 Clay Action for Young People - Through an innovative voucher scheme, YP2 Clay has demonstrated new ways of working with and engaging young people in St Austell, Cornwall, with a particular focus on 14-year-olds who are all given a £20 voucher to redeem on activities of their choice - the face value of the voucher is doubled if at least five people band together for a single project, and trebled, if there are at least 10. It aims to give young people the opportunity to demonstrate responsibility and have control over their own lives. Activities have ranged from quad biking and horse-riding lessons, to communication workshops and a trip to the cinema.
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