The aim of this project was to assess the opportunities for a Foodpaths programme in Somerset’s AONBs through a feasibility study.
The Foodpaths Vision is to make the connection between quality food and outstanding landscapes and specifically “to develop and market a network of establishments (farms, private homes, quality graded B&B’s and produce outlets) providing rural gastronomic and on farm experiences, to be accessible on foot, by bicycle, and on horseback as well as by car, raising the profile of the 3 areas as outstanding living landscapes with thriving communities”.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
The study was commissioned by a partnership of the three AONBs in Somerset – the Blackdown Hills, the Mendip Hills & the Quantock Hills. A steering group was formed including AONB managers & Project staff, Somerset County Council Rights of Way Officer and business representatives from the hospitality and food sector in the areas.
This was carried out through 1. Assessment of economic factors 2. Assessment of target audience & participants 3. Identifying participating businesses and setting criteria to become part of the scheme
The feasibility stage funded by Rural Renaissance included:
• Databases created for accommodation providers, hospitality businesses & farm based local food businesses, and local food producers for each AONB
• Questionnaires sent to businesses to gauge interest in the project, and assess the potential economic impact of the project, and the responses analysed
• A survey of tourism trends was conducted
• A field trip to a rural area in Italy was undertaken to examine the structure and contribution of the Agroturismo sector to tourism and rural development
• An analysis of the AONB and Rights of Way policies
• A trial product, including two specific “Foodpath” trails was developed and test marketed directly with potential clients.