Hilary and her husband farms at Tyddyn Isaf, which overlooks the Menai Straits near Bethesda. They also have mountain rights on Llanllechid Common for their Welsh Hill flock and graze Highland and Belted Galloway cattle and Manx Loughton sheep on nature reserves from Pwllheli to Bangor, Anglesey and the coast below the farm. In addition to the farm they also run a countryside contracting business with their children which incorporates grazing livestock into management of the nature reserves for the Wildlife Trust, Local Councils and holiday parks. Grazing animals create conditions for a range of species and habitats such as grassland waxcap fungi, breeding waders, leeches, wildflower meadows, wetlands, sand dunes and heathland. The sheep and cattle are finished slowly and are marketed through local butchers or as premium meat through local sales. Although not registered as organic the farm is run on organic principles with no fertiliser, herbicides or pesticides used.
Sorcha lives in the beautiful Elan Valley in Mid Wales where she farms with her husband and 2 children on an upland hill farm. Over the last 10 years Brian and Sorcha have developed the productivity of the farm, whilst successfully retaining and incorporating many important habitats. Due to its location within the water catchment for the water supply to Birmingham, the farm has been managed as low impact for generations, with no inorganic fertilisation of the ground, just sheep or cattle manure. This careful management, along with the range of habitats, means the farm hosts a wealth of wildlife habitats and species. A number of traditional breeds are used on the farm including Badger faced Welsh Mountain, Welsh Mountain and Herdwick sheep.
Gethin Owen farms 110ha at Nant-yr-Efail near Abergele on the North Wales coast with his family, and is a former regional winner of the RSPB Nature of Farming award. He farms 35 suckler cows and 650 ewes, and also grows spring oats and barley, forage peas, swedes and red clover. The farm is run following traditional principles of variety in space & time and being as self-sufficient as possible to reduce input costs. The farm has been within the Glastir Advanced and Tir Gofal agri-environment schemes since 2008, and has resulted in significant environmental improvement & habitat creation, including several kilometres of hedgerow planting and restoration and provision of overwintered stubbles for many species of seed-eating birds. Gethin is passionate about creating a home for wildlife, and demonstrating that this can be mutually beneficial in its co-existence with productive and sustainable agriculture.
Polly is a mixed organic tenant farmer in South Wales, with a large range of agri- environmental management options undertaken, due to the Glastir Advanced contract with the Welsh Government. The farm enterprises include a beef suckler herd, 600 Romney Ewes & 80ha of organic cereals in rotation, including Spelt, Spring Wheat, Spring Barley, Spring Oats & Spring Beans. There is also a small number of Gloucester Old Spot pigs to supply the small farm butchery and meat box delivery business. Polly is passionate about increasing the farm yields both in ecology and improved organic agronomy, so the environmental management options are not a fringe to the farming enterprise but embedded within the whole farming system.
Although from a farming background, Sam didn’t start working in agriculture until her mid-thirties. Now living on the banks of the River Elwy in North Wales, her holding comprises of lowland fertile flood plain and ancient steep woodland. She is passionate about health, welfare and the behaviour of both livestock and wildlife. Sam believes strongly that a biodiverse and regenerative approach to farming and our soils are key to reversing the global climate crisis. By re-sowing maize fields with species rich permanent pasture mixes as well as planting hedgerows and trees, Sam is working for soil resilience, reduced erosion, increased carbon sequestration all year round and a complete regenerative system encompassing livestock and nature.
Hywel farms beef and sheep at Esgairllaethdy Myddfai, Llandovery, on the western end of the Brecon Beacons. The farm comprises 230 acres, including 50 acres of conservation grazing, plus grazing rights on the adjoining common land known as Myndd Du, where his cattle help manage the land for biodiversity. There are also 25 acres of native woodland. Hywel is passionate about selling his produce direct to customers, where he loves talking about how his animals are reared and the important role they play. He believes farmers and consumers need to connect more and together, can drive change for a better planet. Hywel has planted thousands of thousands of trees on the farm, and lets his hedges grow up and out to provide shelter for livestock, plus food and shelter for wildlife. He believes biodiverse rich upland farms are underestimated for the amount of carbon they already sequester, through rich tapestries of grasses and mosses. Hywel champions a working farmed landscape, the importance of rural communities and how vital it is that we protect our farm businesses for future farming generations.
Gerald describes himself as an Organic Farmer and resilient campaigner for Food Sovereignty, and feels privileged to be a member of the Land Worker Alliance and NFFN. Gerald farms on the west coast of Pembrokeshire, and is an active campaigner against genetically modified crops and pesticides. In 2003 he drove his tractor all the way from West Wales to Downing Street to protest about GM crops and to raise support from fellow farmers. In 2010, Gerald launched Wales’ first community supported agriculture (CSA) scheme. He believes the CSA model allows a mutually beneficial relationship between farmers and the community. The people who joined his CSA came to the farm regularly and began to refer to it as ‘our farm’. He also works to run the Llafur Ni (Our Cereals) network - a group which works together to revive rare Welsh landrace oats and share diverse grains. They also have a focus on knowledge sharing, with older farmers accompanying new entrants to Welsh cereal farming, sharing their knowledge of traditional ecological growing practices.
Matt farms using permaculture, agroecology and holistic management which results in a very multi-layered, mixed approach to running the family's 80 acre farm, Henbant, in North West Wales. He believes that farming with nature can result in farms which produce real food and financial profit whilst also building biodiversity, soil and social capital. He thinks it is essential that eating is not seen as a necessarily ecologically negative act and that humans value their role in positively designed, regenerative ecosystems that enhance our world for both humans and nature.