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Farming, supporting local foods and village shops

In Dorset CPRE’s campaigning, our main concern is with factors that influence the beauty and diversity of our countryside, and the health of rural communities. We are deeply concerned to support farmers, for without a prosperous farming sector there is little hope that the countryside will be well maintained. We strongly support local foods, which are good for farmers, consumers and the countryside.

Dorset is home to some of the most delicious and exceptional food in England. However too much of our food comes from the big supermarket chains which sell too little locally produced food. As supermarkets can dictate the price they pay farmers, many are being forced to close. The local shops that do sell local food are being driven out of business, and therefore need your support as do the producers.

New farmers and new small farms can kick-start agricultural revolution

Brexit vote offers chance for farming to become more diverse and environmentally resilient, say countryside campaigners. A new report released on 18th August 2016 by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) argues that farming in England needs to become more diverse to prove environmentally resilient and publicly accessible over the coming years.

Corfe Castle Village Stores: Dorset Best Village Shop Winner 2016

Best Village Shop
Dorset CPRE sponsored for the third year running the class Best Village Shop’, in the Best Dorset Village Competition run by Dorset Community Action. The winner was announced at an awards event on 27th September 2016. Well done to Corfe Castle Village Stores the winner, Best Dorset Village Shop 2016, but Cerne Abbas Village Stores and Mosterton Village Shop came in as worthy runner-ups. Please do visit these stores, but remember all Dorset village shops deserve your support as the number of village shops selling food has fallen by a third in the last decade. Dorset CPRE are sponsoring the class again in 2017. The deadline for entries in the Best Village category only is 5.00pm on Monday 10th April 2017. For all other categories the deadline is 5.00pm on Monday 3rd July 2017.

2016 Best Village Shop Contenders
Corfe Castle Village Stores was taken over by its current owners two years ago after its predecessor went bust soon after a makeover from Mary Portas. It has enjoyed a major refit and now offers a wide range of produce with particular attention to delectable local foods. The shop is attractively presented with flowers and hanging baskets outside. Last year they incorporated a Post Office Local so the village did not lose this facility. It tries hard to meet the needs of both locals as well as tourists in the summer, and offers a large range of extra services and supports local events.

Cerne Abbas Village Stores presents itself as an attractive traditional general village store with an enviable range of produce. It promotes delicious local Dorset foods and offers a wide range of services to the community as well as visitors in the summer. Not many village shops are open until 6pm every day and yet deliver newspapers and bake fresh croissants before opening.

Mosterton Village Shop was taken over recently by its current owners, who dragged the shop back from the brink of closure and reopened it last year after a major refit. It is a bright, modern convenience store which tries hard to meet the needs of the village and now offers a large range of produce and extra services.

Rural retailing – “2015 and Beyond” - A Seminar for Village Shops
On 1st October 2015 Dorset Community Action organised a successful Seminar for Village Shops on “Rural Retailing – 2015 and Beyond”, sponsored by Dorset CPRE who are campaigning to help them and are aware of the importance of training, good practice and networking. Retailing in the UK is changing at a rapid pace, presenting a range of challenges and opportunities for rural retailers. In particular they face relentless competition from the supermarkets.

2015 Best Village Shop Winner
Thorncombe  Village Shop is in a charming village of 700 but it is difficult to find down narrow twisting lanes so the shop has to try extra hard as there are fewer passers-by. The shop has an attractively painted frontage with a regularly changing seasonal window display. The website is very appealing. Everything seems to happen at the shop with even church goers regularly drinking coffee there after communion and on Thursdays there is a pop-up restaurant too. A lot of the fresh food is made by ladies in the village, and everyone seems to get involved. Even the local MP can be seen on certain days behind the counter!

2014 Best Village Shop winner

In 2014 
Winfrith Village Stores was chosen as Dorset’s Best Village Shop. Dorset CPRE is campaigning to help save village shops. A key factor is the need for successful retailers to pass on their strategy to others struggling to survive against the giant supermarkets. Pascal Surret, one of the partners behind Winfrith Village Stores, has written a Case Study on how they transformed the shop in less than a year, which was in need of a make over before they bought it in January 2013.

We would like to ask CPRE members not only to help our village shops but also to encourage parish councils to help these shops resolve their parking and other issues, and urge district councils to give 100% business rates relief automatically. Therefore please spend more and make your voice heard!

Carole-Bernie, Corfe Castle Village Stores,  receives the “Best Village Shop 2016” award from Rupert Hardy, Dorset CPRE. Photo taken by Dorset Echo


Farmers are crucial to the future of the Dorset countryside because so much of it is farmed and will continue to be farmed. They are our most important countryside managers. Farmers need support to be able to give us the countryside we treasure. We can play our part by buying local foods at local outlets. Please refer to CPRE’s Vision for the Future of Farming.

The 30:30 Local Food Challenge
Can our Dorset members complete the 30:30 challenge and pledge to source 30% of your food from within 30 miles of where you live? This article challenges you and gives some hints. Take the pledge.

As a county, Dorset has always had a strong commitment to local foods. Who has not heard of Blue Vinney cheese, Dorset Knobs and Dorset Apple Cake? We have fine local producers, which sell an array of local produce from meat, apple juice, beer to cheese, and you can buy nearly anything you want here locally. Our national 30:30 challenge is a great opportunity for you to support our local producers, eat seasonal produce and have a bit of fun. Why not try this challenge with your children or grandchildren?
Challenge Tips
To source your food, why not try one of the following, which can help you to source producers within 30 miles.
• Why not source the produce at a local Dorset farmers market? For a list look at www.dorsetfarmersmarkets.com
• Visit a farm shop? A list is given in www.dorsetdorset.co.uk
• ill help you locate local producers.
www.visit-dorset.com is the official Dorset Tourism website and lists other food producers and food festivals
Did you know that every £1 spent on local food generates £2.50 for the local economy?
Farming: Crucial to our Countryside

CPRE's major concern is with the English countryside and, among the factors that influence our landscape, farming plays an important part.

We are deeply concerned to support farmers, for without a prosperous farming sector there is little hope that the rural environment will be well maintained. Farmers are crucial to the future of the Dorset countryside because so much of it is farmed and will continue to be farmed. They are our most important countryside managers.

Farmers need support to be able to give us the countryside we treasure. CPRE believes that farmers are entitled to long-term public subsidy to deliver, look after, conserve and manage the things that people want from the countryside - valued open landscapes and valued features such as hedgerows, habitat for wildlife, access to the countryside through a network of useable public footpaths and so on.

Farm subsidies, however, need reform. Public subsidy should include delivering these public 'goods' a well as food (but not supporting over-production). We welcome the reform in the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy. CPRE, along with other environmental groups, will continue to try to influence the way the Government (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) implements these reforms to secure maximum benefit for the environment and the beauty, tranquillity and diversity of the countryside.

Buying local foods at local outlets is one way we can all support farming. Food grown and produced in traditional ways that do not harm the environment helps to conserve valued farm landscapes.

We believe that farm diversification should respect its rural surroundings. As incomes from farming shrink, wherever possible, farmers are quite rightly seeking to develop new businesses in the countryside to give them a livelihood. CPRE recognises this, and the fact that it will create needs for new development - we accept that the countryside will continue to change. But we feel that new rural businesses which create a need for development should be based on, and be appropriate to, the countryside itself, rather than being the kind of new enterprise that could locate anywhere - and should go within towns and cities. If this approach to diversification is not taken, we fear that the countryside will become gradually
Stop the Drop. Dorset under threat.
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