Diversification in rural areas

Although London's hinterland of commuter towns and villages stretches for many miles into areas such as Elmbridge and the South Downs National Park, it has not been affected by London's sphere of influence. Some areas have undergone rural diversification.

Rural diversification is when farms and other rural businesses decide to expand the ways in which they make money with a move away from traditional farming activities.

  • Recreation and leisure - Farms in the South Downs National Park have diversified by developing recreation and leisure opportunities. Some farms have used less productive land for paintballing, let out unwanted barns as holiday cottages and converted fields into campsites. This provides more income for the farmer who can then spend this income in local shops, benefiting the local economy. It also employs more people in the local area and therefore reduces the outmigration of the young. Other farms have become 'Open Farms' where the public pays to see traditional farming practices.
  • Specialist crops and food - Farmers have begun growing local and unique crops to reduce competition with large commercial farms that produce crops such as wheat in East Anglia. Oilseed rape and lavender are grown by farmers in the South Downs and sold for a higher profit than traditional crops such as wheat. Another example is the raising of alpacas. These are animals similar to llamas that come from South America. They produce a fine wool that can be sold for more than sheep's wool.
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