Do you want to venture into running a farm business? A business where your skills, knowledge and efforts will be recognised and rewarded? Would you like the opportunity to be a share partner helping develop that business?
The Venture team is currently seeking a keen, capable and competent farmer who will provide the appropriate match – a business partner with the right combination of skills, knowledge and ambition. The owners of what is today a 575-acre organic farm on the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border, which has a herd of over 70 Simmental suckler cattle plus followers, wish to focus on their flourishing holiday letting business. Could you be the individual they are hoping will come forward?
David Colledge, an accountant, and his wife Angela – now the farmer – left north London to move to Gwarmacwydd, near Clynderwen, in 1985. They bought the historic stone-built house with numerous traditional stone outbuildings, starting out with 106 acres of poorly fenced lowland and purchasing 50 Friesian dairy cows.
“We had no experience of farming, but we were both hard working practical people brought up in a rural environment, committed to learning and determined to make a success of farming,” says Angela.
Today, almost 37 years later, the couple, now helped by their Welsh-speaking daughter Amy (29) and farm workers, have built up their large organic farm business. Alongside this, they have developed a successful holiday tourism enterprise, converting traditional farm outbuildings into five first-class accommodation units. One of the holiday cottages will now be offered to their new business partner, part of the planned ‘share farming’ agreement.
The couple have steadily built up and improved both the land, infrastructure and livestock side of the farm. Having moved away from dairying and sheep, they now run a closed suckler herd of Simmental cattle, which are docile, easy calvers suited to the Welsh climate.
The farming enterprise is self-sufficient with no bought-in feed. Fifty acres of combinable crops (oats and peas) are grown with the legumes adding nutrients to the growing crop, which enhances the protein content of the feed.
Angela and Amy have both tapped into a wide range of Farming Connect services including training, as well as gratefully accepting advice and guidance from many supportive local livestock farmers.
Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
“I needed to learn everything I could about farming, especially the livestock side, very quickly, before I made any expensive mistakes, and Amy has been equally focused,” says Angela.
Over the years, the family have consistently devoted time and resources into the farm to increase efficiency across all areas. Regular soil sampling has helped improve the grassland. They have made substantial investments in infrastructure and handling facilities and have an extensive range of modern machinery. Today, they are not only experienced, professional farmers operating to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards, but for over 20 years, have been firmly committed to sustainable, self-sufficient organic farming and profitable food production. This is compatible with the Welsh Government’s determination to contribute to the global climate and biodiversity challenges. Their new business partner will need to be similarly passionate about organic farming and sustainability and have an interest in getting involved in the marketing and promotional side too.
“We are enormously proud of what we have achieved, but there is capacity to further develop the farm, for example, by adding a sheep flock or other compatible farming enterprises.
“Our new livestock buildings are designed to enable us to make progress in moving away from a slurry-based system to woodchip composted-bedded pack housing.
“We have over 40 acres of woodland, interesting habitat areas, ponds, streams and miles of the Taf riverbank. There are other opportunities such as direct selling of meat boxes that we simply haven’t had time to investigate.
“We are past the usual retirement age, but still active and with the tourism enterprise increasingly taking up more of our time, we feel there is scope to work collaboratively with an energetic and focused new business partner, to maximise the potential of the farm.
“As a family we each feel ready to take a step back from day-to-day farming and to achieve that, we need new blood, and a fresh perspective from someone who is as committed as we are to not only organic farming but sustainable, self-sufficient farming.”
To express interest in this opportunity, download an application form from the Venture webpage at www.gov.wales/farmingconnect.
Alternatively, call Delyth Jones, Venture officer, on 07985 155670 or email Delyth.firstname.lastname@example.org