Are you thinking of diversifying your farm but don’t know where to begin? Got an idea but know don’t how to take it forward? Then the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise’s (CAFRE) Diversification Challenge Business Start Programme could be just the ticket for you and will help you explore the options that could provide an alternative income on your farm.

The focus of this programme is to help farmers and farm family members look at their ideas and explore the possibility of starting a diversified enterprise.

Topics include; how to carry out market research, financing your new business, how to market your product/service, legislation and how it will impact you and more. The programme is offered free of charge to farmers and farm family members.

A Diversification Challenge – Business Start Programme will commence on Thursday 6 February 2014 at the Newtownstewart Centre 2000. It is being organised in conjunction with the Dennett Interchange and RAPID (Rural Area Partnership in Derry) and will take place each Thursday night from February for six weeks.

Past participants have found CAFRE’s Business Start Programme to be extremely beneficial when starting out on their new ventures. This has been the experience of Co Tyrone woman Miranda Doherty who completed the Business Start Programme a number of years ago.

At that time she thought about starting up a livery yard business on the family farm. Doherty said: “I found the course to be really helpful. It allowed me to take the time to examine my idea, find out all that I needed to do to make it happen and it gave me the confidence I needed to start.”

Doherty opened Ballyskeagh Stables outside Artigarvan in 2007 and the business has gone from strength to strength since then. It now comprises of part and full livery stables, indoor and outdoor arenas, horse riding lessons, as well as hosting competitions on site. She added: “I would recommend the course to anyone interested in diversifying as it is a great way of finding out how your idea can become a reality as well as meeting like minded people.”

If you would like more information on the programme or would like to register your interest in attending, please contact Mark Poots on 028 4461 8082 or 07585 975 742. Alternatively you can email your contact details to [email protected].

By Mark Poots, Rural Enterprise Adviser