Spotlight: Our work in Northumberland

May 27, 2024

We recently highlighted our activity in Northumberland at the Northumberland County Show, showcasing a range of life-changing programmes aimed at empowering farmers and rural communities.

At the event, Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Royal Countryside Fund, shared more about our farming programmes, including Farm for the Future (FFTF). Delivered in Northumberland by our trusted local partners, the Farmer Network, and the Northumberland National Park Authority, FFTF has supported over 45 local farmers in the past year, equipping them with the tools and knowledge to thrive in a rapidly changing agricultural landscape. This autumn, workshops will be held in Wooler and Scots Gap, giving farmers a final opportunity to benefit from our free support. 

We also introduced a new programme, Savings in Soil, sponsored by McDonald’s. This initiative will be rolled out to 20 farm businesses in Northumberland during the spring and summer of 2024, helping them understand how improving soil structure can enhance farm profitability. This builds on a biodiversity workshop sponsored by Barbour earlier this year, where 71% of participants rated their post-workshop knowledge on biodiversity as 9 or 10 out of 10, with all participants reporting increased understanding. 

Since 2012, we have funded 16 community projects in Northumberland and the north east, investing £233,818 in the county. One notable project is the Blackhall Mill Community Association, which received a grant to develop a scalable model for the Derwent Valley Car Club. This initiative provides essential alternatives to public transport, significantly improving mobility and connectivity for residents. 

Michael Marston from the Blackhall Mill Community Association said, “The idea for us was to introduce electric vehicles to support our community. We had to take action, realising that there were no alternatives, and most people had few options to get around. The car club concept is about using our knowledge and experience to help other communities. This is why we are grateful to the RCF (Royal Countryside Fund) for their support and funding.”