LEADER Approach

A group for people involved in the approximate 200 Local Action Groups which exist in the rural areas of the UK and ROI

Members: 28
Latest Activity: May 16, 2014

Carnegie Rural Convention 2009: presentations and conversation starters...

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Discussion Forum

LEADER legacies in Economic Development

As the Chair of a LAG, I am seeking information that might be of use to help bind the results of experiments (to use our 'outdoor laboratory' terminology) conducted under LEADER approach into future…Continue

Started by Keith Harrison Nov 29, 2010.


Carnegie Press Release 22 Sept 2010Report suggests LEADER Local Action Groups have central role to play in UK and Ireland Rural Regeneration.The European Union’s much maligned Common Agricultural…Continue

Started by Kirsty Tait Sep 30, 2010.

Research paper- Rural Development and the LEADER Approach 1 Reply

Carnegie UK Trust is happy to launch Geoff Brown's research paper 'Rural Development and the LEADER Approach.'…Continue

Started by Kirsty Tait. Last reply by Keith Harrison Sep 6, 2010.


I attended an inspiring seminar in Fife on food called “Nourishing Communities” – an event organised as part of a series of seminars designed to enhance local authorities’ community engagement on…Continue


Started by geoff brown. Last reply by Helen Fairweather Aug 25, 2010.

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Comment by geoff brown on April 29, 2010 at 12:08

I attended an inspiring seminar in Fife on food called “Nourishing Communities” – an event organised as part of a series of seminars designed to enhance local authorities’ community engagement on carbon emissions reduction.The seminar (organised by St Andrews and Dundee Universities) looked at some of the local initiatives on food, including
• the impressive food procurement policies of Fife Council,
• the Fife Diet project (now with 1000 adult participants)
• the emerging Food Policy for Fife with its important messages about health and nutrition

It also included an up-date from the One Planet Food project which, in a general way, encapsulates the issues: how can the food system be changed so that in the affluent west, food production and consumption can be less environmentally and socially damaging. As One Planet Food puts it:

“If everyone ate food the way we do in Britain, we would need three planets”

It’s a difficult job trying to describe the complexities of the current food system and it’s dangerous to generalise, but - more often than not, buying local and seasonal food is a “good thing.”

Many LEADER LAGs over several programmes now have responded to this challenge by helping farmers and growers in increasing numbers to develop farm shops, box schemes and farmers’ markets etc along with health eating schemes and local growing campaigns. Every area will probably have some “local food” provision.
But we have a very long way to go on this agenda if we are to have more than a token impact. The One Planet Food team’s research shows that 79.5% of the food consumed in Fife is bought at supermarkets, as against the 0.52% which is bought at “local food” outlets such as farm shops and farmers’ markets (the remainder is bought at smaller local shops).

Pete Ritchie from One Planet Food (a farmer himself) set off some interesting thoughts about the need to “scale up” the local food sector. Currently farmers’ markets are infrequent and low volume; there are limits to the number of farm shops that can be developed succcesfully and there is a marked lack of time amongst farmers to add value to their products- so they sell on commodity markets and for export.

Developing some ideas for action he talked about the limits and possibilities of Community Supported Agriculture schemes, whereby members of the public contract to buy an agreed amount of a local farm’s produce per year. Schemes of this sort (and there are many in the USA) tend to plateau out with about 200 customers but there could be ways of developing the concept with novel ways (food bonds, food mutuals, links to credit unions etc) of groups supporting local food production. We need to find ways of involving mainstream commercial farmers in this agenda. Interestingly also, he raised the question as to whether there should be a “community right to grow” with allotments and other growing areas being available to all.

Is there any new practice in the world of the Rural Development Programmes and the LEADER approach exploring any of this ground? We clearly need to get beyond the point at which we currently seem to be stuck. Anybody up for any exploration of new developments in local food – perhaps as a co-operation issue?
Comment by geoff brown on April 7, 2010 at 14:29
I've just discovered that the Scotland National Rural Network is calling for one community delegate to participate in a visit to the Swedish Rural Parliament to be held on 5-9 May (see Applicants have make a business case for their atttendance and the succesful person will have to provide on return a report, an article and photos. Expenses are met. The details of this were it seems posted on April 6 (yesterday) with applications to be in by 12noon on April 8th (tomorrow). Although the timetable is very tight and there is only one place, the succesful applicant will surely have a very valuable time which may help Scotland to introduce a new element to rural policy making. Here at CUKT we are looking with interest at rural parliaments and other bodies such as the Finnish Rural Policy Committee - they really might fill a gap in relation to bottom up involvement in strategy and policy making. We await with interest the outcome of the visit - and would encourage more people to go and see these and other pioneering rural development structures.Maybe LEADER groups might do something on these lines too but with more siginficant numbers of people involved -working with transnational partners on new approaches to policy making in rural development.
Comment by geoff brown on February 25, 2010 at 15:38
I've just looked at the East Durham website and its good to see interesting new projects being taken forward in a former coalfield area and more on the way- a good reminder that there are many ex-industrial and mining areas. (West Cumbria, the China Clay area in Cornwall, numerous locations on the Pennines etc). The main point I guess is the sheer suitability of the Leader approach for local bottom up development in rural areas of all types, so much so that there is apparently an attempt being made by the regional development directorate in Europe (DG Regio) to take over LEADER from the rural directorate DG Agri (its present home) and to apply the Leader method across the board in communities in general (urban and rural). We are beginning to explore the dimensions of this debate and note with interest that Professor Michael Dower made some references to what was under discussion when he spoke at the recent RDPE network in Warwickshire. Another point relevant to what Liz is saying is to ask why - when the LEADER areas were being approved - that Defra and the RDAs did not aim for full coverage of the rural areas of England?Looking at the map of where the 65 English LEADER groups are, threw up the fact that there are bits and pieces of rural territory all over England that are not covered by LEADER. This is in sharp contrast to Wales, Scotland and Ireland North and South where LEADER has total rural coverage using one or other of the population density definitions for rurality. They have clearly adopted a pragmatic and non-discriminatory approach, recognising no doubt the different ruralities that do exist.
Comment by Liz Charles on February 25, 2010 at 14:28
You might be interested to look further into the progress being made by East Durham LEADER - an example of LEADER breaking into new territory. It is largely an ex-mining rural area, very different from the area covered by LEADER in the west of the county. It's been an interesting journey and is beginning to bear fruit. See
Comment by geoff brown on February 24, 2010 at 16:49
In Co Durham yesterday at Business in the Community/Prince's Trust Rural Action Programme. Many good examples of social enterprise development at local level - and much recognition of LEADER's role in local development.Is the LEADER approach beginning to make a breakthrough generally- or is it just happening in areas where there has been a programme previously?
Also good to see that there will be some UK level networking in LEADER: meeting to be held in Belfast 10-11 March. We at Carnegie are strong advocates of the LEADER approach with its emphasis on grassroots, joined up and innovative rural development and are pleased that Kate Braithwaite is speaking on the second day
Comment by Keith Harrison on December 17, 2009 at 10:53
Interesting piece on Remembering the LEADER+ Network Geoff. The point about integration of the Leader approach with the wider world of rural development is a bugbear of mine. Two things do come to mind here; one, is the Rural Community Council model - were applied properly - actually a mainstreamed version of the Leader approach (minus the population limit)? I think there is an argument to be made for an affirmative answer there. Secondly, the LAG I currently enjoy charing does have formal links into a county-wide rural development structure (going beyond the RCC), exactly because learning from the old LEADER+ network highlighted the loss of potential that was created by a lack of connectivity.
Anyway, thanks for a thought-provoking piece.

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