Booths is helping to protect our countryside and its workers

Lancashire supermarket chain Booths is passionate about supporting the countryside, its workers and their produce.

Edwin Booth
Edwin Booth

It sources many of its products from around the North West, and is a major supporter of The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

In fact CEO and chairman Edwin Booth is a trustee of the fund, having been involved since it was first suggested.

Over the past seven years, Booths has contributed more than £150,000 in sponsorship and other ways to help fund local initiatives working to support the countryside.

The Prince's Countryside Fund supports many projects to support farmers

This donation has helped to fund:

*3 Farmer Networks: providing a lifeline to isolated farmers in need of support

*160 training opportunities for young people: boosting rural skills

*8 community transport schemes: connecting isolated communities

*6 community shops and post offices

*And supported over 80 farm businesses through the Farm Resilience Programme: creating a more viable future for family farms.

Established by The Prince of Wales, The Prince’s Countryside Fund exists to improve the prospects of family farm businesses and the quality of rural life.

Edwin Booth was at a London event in the company of Prince Charles when the Fund was first suggested. He gave the idea his whole-hearted support.

Farming can be a difficult and lonely existence, and no more so than during the current coronavirus crisis.

Booths, which has stores all over the North West and is headquartered in Preston, is a long-term supporter of North West farmers and their quality produce.

Mr Booth said: “An awful lot of what we sell comes from the local area.

“Farming is a tough job – and we ensure they get a fair price for their products.

"We are supporting a lot of local business – which is important because otherwise they may fail.

“To many of the small family farms the loss of EU subsidies they are getting at the moment could make all the difference. It’s important we don’t lose them.”

Another major issue is mental health owing to the isolation and loneliness that can result from being a farmer.

The Countryside Fund addresses that too, giving farmers a support network.

Mr Booth said Booths – regarded as a high end store with quality products – had attracted some loyal customers during the pandemic and he wanted to keep them, via new offers through the Booths loyalty card.

He said: “It’s about keeping people safe. They haven;t come to us because we are cheap.

“They have come because they feel safe.”

Nigel Murray, COO of Booths said, “During lockdown, many of us have formed a deeper appreciation of the countryside and the role it plays in our lives.

“Food and farming have been at the heart of Booths for well over 170 years and the array of farmers and growers form the very backbone of our business.

“Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of food security, availability and traceability.There is a real need for education and insight into how products are grown, sown and produced so that we respect not only the food we eat, but place significantly greater value on the people who provide it for us .”

Recognising that farmers need support now more than ever, The Prince’s Countryside Fund is launching a National Directory of Farm and Rural Support Groups.

The directory lists 69 regional, national, and membership organisations who can provide support, advice, and guidance to farming and rural communities.

The desperately sad fact is that each week a farmer takes their own life, as such making support groups easy to find and access is absolutely vital.

Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We are proud to be able to support UK farm support groups, both financially through our grant programme, and by highlighting the importance of their work in our National Directory of Farm and Rural Support Groups.

"Our aim for the future is to make these networks more sustainable and help them to grow, ensuring that all UK farmers can receive local help when they need it.”

In the words of The Prince of Wales who founded this vital rural charity: “The countryside’s contribution to the national good has to be cherished and sustained. Without it, we will all be very much the poorer.”

Booths is a family owned and operated independent supermarket with stores across Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Cheshire and Greater Manchester.

It works hard to engage with the wider community and develop partnerships with local suppliers, producers, schools and like-minded organisations.

To help support and secure the future of the countryside , the Prince’s Countryside Fund provides more than £1.2m each year in grant funding to projects across the UK thanks to support from its partners, events and donations.

To find out more about the Fund’s grant making activity, visit www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk.