As we enter 2021 with a new mist of uncertainty in the air, we find ourselves back in lockdown for what seems to be the foreseeable future with most people’s plans and programmes hanging on the timely distribution of the vaccination. For The Farmer’s Arms, as the purchase progresses with solicitors behind the scenes it doesn’t feel there is an awful lot to say since my last update in early December but, as always, it’s only when you sit to write that you recall.

In December we closed The Farmer’s Arms Loan Stock investment and Founding Benefactors donors offers with 37 people investing and a further 29 people contributing just over £300k. In times of uncertainty, the fact that this project was able to meet, and exceed, an ambitious £300k fundraising target is perhaps tantamount to the timely nature of the call as we all consider how we may go about rebuilding our communities in the (hopefully) not so distant future. The Crake Valley has many innovative rural businesses, and with a heavy focus on local entrepreneurship and developing a local circular economic model, The Farmer’s Arms could significantly support the area’s recovery period.

Although one milestone has been reached, we enter the new year a little short of our first-phase fundraising target of £750,000 which will cover the purchase price, associated fees and the initial renovation work needed to re-open the building. Apart from the business planning and viability process, a big part of my role (as Project Manager) has focused on fundraising and stakeholder relationship development. All of this continues as applications to cover the current shortfall are submitted to local trusts and foundations and more focused conversations around particular elements of the programme and areas of the redevelopment progress.

With the purchase nearing completion (we are now about half way through), programme planning for the renovation and redevelopment stages of the project began before the Christmas break, but, like so many other organisations, the recent changes and new lockdown restrictions have left us revisiting and reassessing most of our previous plans. Even in the project’s early viability stages, the plan for the redevelopment and renovation work was always to provide ample opportunity for community participation and engagement with educational groups using onsite workshops to remodel and replan the interiors under GA’s tuition. With another national lockdown and little hint at when restrictions may be lifted, the format under which this happens will need to change and perhaps for some elements, momentarily pause.

A creative and industrious rural hub, The Farmer’s Arms will be a work-in-progress, where its constant evolution will provide focus for everyone involved, even if this process has to begin under lock-down restrictions and for now, remain in the Zoom room.

We are now in the process of planning a series of digital workshops and volunteer opportunities which will be launched towards the end of this month. As always, for more information about how you can get involved and contribute, visit the dedicated project website www.lakedistrictfarmersarms.com, subscribe to our social media channels, our newsletter and here on our blog.

There will be ample opportunities over the coming months to register your interest in getting involved, to tell us what you are most interested in and to contribute your thoughts and opinions to the project’s development so keep in touch, and get involved.

Emma Sumner (Valley Project Manager)

You can still donate to support The Farmer’s Arms on the project’s website HERE  – every small contribution is welcome and greatly appreciated.

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