A new lottery-funded programme has been launched in a bid to keep more village shops in business.

The Making Local Food Work campaign will be backed with a £10m investment in local food initiatives throughout England over five years.

The project will support 650 sustainable community enterprises, including community-owned shops and farmers markets.

It is being run by rural improvement charity The Plunkett Foundation, in conjunction with the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Co-operatives UK, Country Markets, the National Farmers' Retail & Markets Association, Food Links UK, the Soil Association, Sustain and Village Retail Services Association.

"Making Local Food Work has a broad economic and social reach," said Plunkett Foundation chief executive James Money-Kyrle.

"It will reconnect consumers with local food and give our local food heritage a real boost," he added.

By supporting local shops the campaign would also create opportunities for small producers who had become isolated by the disappearance of local independent shops, he added.

The scheme will also target urban areas where people currently have limited access to fresh, healthy, seasonal food.