IF you fancy earning your living or even just doing something useful in the countryside, then 2012 could be your year.

A programme of training courses designed to offer new skills and employment opportunities to people living in rural Worcestershire has been launched.

Over the next 12 months, a series of six courses organised by Bewdley Development Trust will cover all aspects of running a smallholding and there are other days which will offer training in countryside skills such as fencing, hedge laying and charcoal burning. On the food production side, there will be bread-making in a wood-fired oven and turning fruit into pickles and chutneys.

Those with fruit trees can learn how to prune them and then turn the end product into juice or cider.

Peter Miller, of the development trust, said: “Following a pilot programme as part of the Grow with Wyre partnership, we are pleased to be able to offer training in a wide variety of countryside management and crafts.

“This will provide new skills, leading to employment opportunities and help to bring land back into use which will contribute to a more sustainable future for all of us.”

All the courses will run from 9am to 5pm and will be held at Uncllys Farm, Bewdley. The Ruskin Studio at the farm is an award-winning green oak-framed building with easy access and a wood-fired range. Eligible applicants will pay only £25 per course (plus materials costs in some cases) as they have been selected under a programme co-financed by the Defra-supported Rural Development Programme for England. For further information and bookings, call Bewdley Development Trust on 01299 405516 or e-mail info@bewdley.org.uk.