A firm in Pershore that grows Juneberries – the first to do so in the UK - has been awarded a £5,300 LEADER grant to fund new fruit harvesting equipment.
The business was created in 2015, and with support from a local horticultural college in Pershore, imported 300 young Juneberry trees from Canada.
Juneberries are a unique fruit, as they look like a blueberry, but are most similar to an apple in their taste.
Pershore Juneberries Ltd ran by Sophie Sidaway, has since gone on to become the first commercial grower of this unique fruit in the UK, benefitting greatly from their purchase of a bespoke berry harvester.
Sophie Sidaway, founder of Pershore Juneberries Ltd said:
"Early harvests were possible picking berries by hand, but as yields grew, it was necessary to automate. We needed berry harvesting equipment but with the limited resources of a start-up, were looking for a match funding grant scheme.
Since using the berry harvester, Pershore Juneberries has become much more efficient, fruit waste has been reduced, and ultimately our turnover has increased."
The business has gone from strength to strength, and much of their fruit is now sold to chefs in restaurants and hotels throughout the country via their distributors.
The deadline is fast approaching for rural businesses and community groups to express their interest to receive funding from the Worcestershire LEADER programme.
The programme, delivered by Worcestershire County Council, is designed to help communities contribute to the local economy and help businesses to grow and create additional employment.
Expressions of Interest for the funding must be made before 25th May. After May the scheme will officially close and will remain closed, unless further funding becomes available. The grants already awarded range from between £2,500 - £20,000 for capital equipment.
LEADER is part of the Rural Development Programme for England and is delivered locally by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire Local Action Group on behalf of Defra.
The focus of the LEADER programme is on growing the economies of rural communities by enabling local people to identify and implement solutions to local problems.
The project has received funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development under the Rural Development Programme for England. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the Managing Authority for the Rural Development Programme for England.