Blatches Barn, a 19th century traditional Essex threshing bar, forms the backdrop to the seasonal Green Café and bike hire in Little Canfield near Dunmow, which is run by the volunteer-led co-op. The group is now looking to restore the building using traditional methods, with the eventual aim of creating a permanent facility for the village.
Plans include a micro- bakery (in partnership with Mayfield Farm Bakery in Old Harlow) and Café, as well as a fully accessible, multi-functional space for community and educational lessons and events.
Outdoor areas will be developed to showcase horticultural practices and green energy. The barn will also house digital interpretation, highlighting the rich history of the area.
The co-operative hopes the project will create additional volunteering and educational opportunities for local people and schoolchildren, and enable it to further its aims of reducing rural isolation. A number of full and part-time jobs, work experience and training opportunities will be created when the project is completed.
Local Food (& More!) has also received a development grant of £25,700 to help them progress their plans and apply for a full grant through HLF’s Heritage Enterprise programme. The development grant will be used to provide a volunteer and education building, a traditional outdoor bread oven for special community events and to install utilities, as well as contributing towards the costs of the second round application.