I have read the comments on this site regarding Warborne and have spoke to kate at the farm a few weeks ago when I first heard the news. The issue of farm shops has been a challenge for more than 30 years for councils and farmers around the UK. Sadly the rules appear to interpreted in different ways and even sadder is that shops selling truly local produce tend to be the ones to lose out. The changing move towards recognising issues such as peak oil, climate change, food security, rural economies....will I hope make Warborne Farm scenarios fewer. The issue at Warbourne is not wholly down to the planners, supermarkets and a lack of customers are a major factor - as they are at Sunnyfields as well and many other independent outlets.
I have been talking to NFDC planners and our last meeting (a few weeks ago) was spent talking food production with a clear desire from their side to understand local food production and that is a positive.
The challenge for us all is that every year our capacity in terms of people and land diminishes further in terms of increasing local food production when we need to be going the other way. Losing land at Warbourne is a negative for us all.
In terms of The New Forest and local food - The producer markets are far from vibrant, local shops, restaurants and cafes are not full of local produce and residents of The New Forest are not - it appears supporting local food enough.
I repeat losing Laverstoke and Warborne within 6 months of each other is unacceptable and I do believe that the NPA planning authority did not help, although they cannot be blamed in isolation.
I would be very willing in line with other comments to look at the issue of farm shops. I will also point out that Famers' Markets in the UK have certainly plateaued and are in many cases on a fast decline, which re-inforces my point above. Farmers' and Growers can grow it but they need lots of help in other ways.
And finally - An update on The Food and More Project is that I have a meeting in London with Bates, Wells and Braithwaite in two weeks to gain more information about the legal structure of the project. The key for the success of many sustainabilty initiatives has to be in building communities - the intention is for the project to be a CIC Plc (Community Interest Company). We hope the first pilot project will be close to the New Forest. The project has to be of a scale that can start addressing the challenges on a scale that can start to make the required changes asap for the benefit of us all. The project has to be inclusive not exclusive.
Sorry for the long nature of this blog