Ever closer.

We’re moving ever closer to that dream of producing some of the UK’s best British Charcuterie. I’m biased, so I think our bacon and sausages are pretty damn awesome as they are but I’ve been chomping at the bit to get going on some of the more ‘fancy stuff’. When I started my proper research back in 2010, I thought we’d have an unit set up mid 2011. Well, how thick was I, it’s 2013 and a new unit is still not a certainty, but… we’re getting there. Time hasn’t been wasted, we’ve managed more travel than I’d expected, met more farmers, producers and got a bit more of our own production testing under our belts. If anything, we’re fitter, faster stronger and far better placed to launch on a bigger scale than had we started building a year ago.

This past week I met with the bank manager and between bank loans and money we’ve raised we’re edging towards the £80,000 mark already for secured funds. We’re through the first competitive round of the Welsh Government Processing and Marketing grant scheme, which we’ve very kindly asked for nearly £100,000. That grant is by no way secured, and I’ve been spending every spare minute these past weeks asking for letters of support, scouring trade magazines and catalogues, meeting equipment reps and totting up projected financials and writing marketing plans. As it’s a 50% grant, we’re still short of around £20,000.

We’re aiming big on the new unit. Trying to choose equipment that’ll future proof the business for a good few years to come. We won’t be fully automated, but neither will we do everything by hand – we’re taking a middle road which will mean that everything will remain artisan. We’re also trying to be cost effective, productive and sustainable – solar pv, solar hot water and from a wider whole farm perspective we’re working on a possible hydro project with a neighbouring farm.

Last year we enlisted the help of Dangerous Doug Films and we’ve got a rough cut of a film ready for a Kickstarter bid. Crowd funding doesn’t seem to be as well known as I’d initially thought – my bank manager hadn’t heard of it and quite a few people I’ve spoken to recently haven’t either. So, here’s a basic explanation… I need £20,000, so websites such as Kickstarter allow me to post a little film and some text explaining why I need the cash. Those wishing to support the business financially are called ‘backers’, they can offer as much or as little as they like. They’re not buying a part of the business, but they’re not necessarily just giving money for nothing either. There are different tiers of funding, £5 might get you a thank you card and the satisfaction to know that you’ve really contributed to the growth of a small business, £20 might get you a thank you card and a nice salami from the unit once it’s built. The tiers of funding keep on growing, and the offers get better and better. I’m working on the ‘top offer’ at the moment, I won’t say too much yet, but I’m hoping it’ll be a culinary/charcuterie based foreign trip!

In the meantime, if you’d like to support the grant application, I’d be very grateful if you signed a little petition I’ve got going

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