After all the delays and frustrations, we are now fully clear to open our oyster business in May. Lots of work still to do but it’s all now in our hands.
We have had a challenging winter with heavy storms and rough seas which have made looking after our stock and equipment somewhat interesting! However all has survived really well which is reassuring. The major impact has been on our Deep Water Trial where we were delayed in getting equipment and stock into the water because of constraints on the delicate boat operations.
The final step was getting the grant from Power to Change of £75,000, the first part of which is now sitting in our bank account ready to fund the initial investment.
So what happens now? A host of things, which will become increasingly visible to everyone:
- Set up the operations building at Porlock Weir including the necessary equipment. Planning permission is in place and all design work completed so we are ready to go on the building work itself
- Hold a community meeting on 2nd of March when we will bring everyone fully up to date on our status and plans, set out the loans terms and process for those who wish to participate, answer any questions you may have and gather any views or suggestions
- Raise community loan finance in March
- Begin purchase of additional stock required for 2016 and beyond
- Purchase additional equipment for growing and looking after operational stock which is significantly higher than we had for the trial
- Signing up our initial customers, with priority being given to our local market
- Using oysters to actively differentiate and promote the Porlock area and encourage growth in tourism and hospitality
- Recruiting additional resources
- Planning our launch event
This project has been brewing for a long time – much longer than we originally envisaged – and its great to now be free to actually get started. The goal is to make a major difference to Porlock and our local economy and we are confident that with community support this can be achieved for the benefit of us all.
Particular thanks should be given to those who have helped us achieve our initial goal of reinstating Porlock’s traditional oyster business. They are:
- Exmoor National Park
- Shellfish Association of Great Britain/Fishmongers Hall
- Porlock Manor Estate
- Porlock Parish Council, and
- Power to Change
However the main thanks go to you – members of this community. When I talk to people from other places they routinely say “we couldn’t do that here” or “we wouldn’t get the community engagement and support” or “no one here would take a risk”.
Those of us working on the project recognise and have really appreciated your engagement, ideas and support and want to make sure you all remain fully involved as members as we seek to successfully develop this business for the benefit of the whole community.