Andy Mindel & Vicky Portwain purchased Pepperscombe Farm in 2017 with a view to creating “a magical space where you feel earthed and inspired.”
Located on the South Downs Way, the holiday cottages, set in 30 acres which also includes a livery, offered the couple the chance to work together on a project. It also provided an opportunity to combine their skills, Andy as a web entrepreneur who develops online and physical products and Vicky using her experience working in environmental consultancy and renewable energy development.
Both have a love of nature and the impact it can have on people and having spent time travelling together, they first settled near the coast at Shoreham-by-Sea but then moved to the farm. Vicky’s brother Lee joined the couple and their two children at the farm, bringing his artist blacksmith skills with him.
Having updated and decorated the holiday cottages, they looked to introduce a glamping element to the business with the purchase of a horsebox which they worked on to convert to holiday accommodation with a rustic feel to fit with the environment in which it stood. This proved popular especially during the COVID-19 pandemic where visitors sough to escape the crowds and re-establish a connection with nature.
It was whilst researching grants online that Andy discovered the Invest4 grant and got in touch with the GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital team. “Initially I had a chat through our ideas, and they were really helpful and clear in what we could apply for a grant for – which was really useful,” stated Andy. They then attended the Bootcamp programme to help them understand the grant process and start to develop their application.
“Our plan was to develop an events space and accommodation using a Yurt and a hut which would provide us the opportunity to develop a new market for a wider community of people looking to connect with nature,” explained Andy.
The project was substantial with Andy, Vicky and Lee doing most of the work to organise everything once they had been awarded the grant. They are currently putting the finishing touches to them, ready to open for business in Spring 2023. They have already held a trial event at Halloween, which was popular, with a Spooky Trail and plenty of pumpkins which they grew themselves.
“The grant application process did require us to complete a lot of paperwork, but the support of the team was amazing, and it gave us time to focus on what we really wanted. Nicola was always available to answer questions and had a huge amount of knowledge which helped us to refine the application, giving us the confidence that we needed.”
“It’s very exciting to see how far our ideas have come in a relatively short time, and now thanks to the Invest4 grant and the support of GetSet for Growth Coast to Capital, we are ready to embark properly on our next adventure as a family!”said Andy.
They are now planning other events in the atmospheric yurt based on the feedback that they have received from guests so far. Andy hopes to develop various health & healing events to bring men together with the aim of improving their mental health and there are plenty of family events on the horizon.