Our South Downs: Businesses share goals of community and sustainability

Our South Downs has been launched to help tackle climate change and kickstart a green recovery for the region’s economy following the pandemic.

The new business initiative will also create an innovative network where businesses and organisations can connect with each other, share services and products, and work together towards sustainability.

The initiative has been launched by the South Downs National Park Authority’s Enterprise Team and is open – and free to join – to all businesses in and around the National Park.

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Brett Sacks and his partner Katie Forman own and run Slow Grown Farm, a regenerative farm with rare native breed cows, pigs and chickens.

Wilmington Long Man and Wilmington Hill, South Downs National Park, East Sussex, England, UK

The farm began in 2021 and in the coming year it will produce 100 per cent grass-fed artisanal, small batch raw-milk cheese from its dairy herd, which is cow-calf whereby the claves stay with their mums for four months before weaning, as well as charcuterie from its woodland reared pigs.

Brett said: “We are a small business whose aim is to serve our local communities. We believe in the power and importance of local and sustainable supply chains - which has been proved recently during COVID and again with Ukraine/Russia. Our South Downs aligns with these values and goals and can help propel us to building a stronger and more resilient community.

“We think that all local businesses stand to gain from a stronger local community. There is no cost to local businesses and there is everything to gain.”

Mandy Ranger and Darran Foss opened Alfriston Cabins in July 2020.

Brett Sacks and Katie Forman of Slow Grown Farm

Mandy said: “We built the cabins on the footprint of an old forest school and summer house which had become dilapidated. We now offer these as short term holiday lets, giving guests the opportunity to relax and enjoy the outside space and wonderful surroundings within the South Downs National Park.

“Our dream is of being closer together as a family, enhance nature, plant over 100 trees and support local charities such as WOLO.We are expanding our business to include three classic shepherds huts in a beautiful flower meadow overlooking the Cuckmere Valley.”

The business also creates its own apple juice and honey, which it provides its guests.

They decided to join Our South Downs as it shares their vision to work with other local businesses as part of a community.

She said: “It is so important for all businesses to connect, share skills and manage the environment we live and work in to the best of our ability.

“Our dream is to provide our son with a safe environment surrounded by nature. Within this dream we aim to enhance wildlife, grow our own vegetables, keep farm animals, and live off the land.

"We would love to become a carbon neutral business to help sustain the world we live in, and have the ability to share this vision with our guests, allowing them to enjoy the environment.”

The initiative has a number of key elements to help businesses, including free business mentoring sessions from Association of Business Mentors, a regularly-updated online portal with information for businesses with planning and tourism, discounted venue hire at sites run by National Park Authority, advice and support around maximising energy efficiency, creating stronger supply chains and information on new funding opportunities when they become available.

Launching this autumn businesses will also be able to join an internationally-recognised ‘Green South Downs’ certification scheme that champions sustainability.

Our South Downs is an important part of the National Park Authority’s aim to achieve its nature recovery targets by 2030, which includes increasing the amount of land managed for nature.

To find out more visit oursouthdowns.co.uk

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South Downs National Park: new business initiative launched