Members of the South Wales FUW Academy, a collaboration of the Union’s Gwent, Glamorgan and Brecon and Radnor branches, recently visited Fforch Farm in the Rhondda, explored the first farm shop in the area and visited micro-brewery Cwm Rhondda Ales, to learn about different ways of diversification.
Fforch Farm is a beef and sheep farm with 40 cattle and 500 sheep and has been in the Jones family for 33 years. Lynne and Lorna Jones, who have 6 daughters and 1 son, run the farm and farm shop together with their daughters Grug, Caryl, Aneira and son Arwel.
Lynne was left with little choice but to diversify after foot and mouth disease hit the business hard.
He said: “When I purchased the farm, I loved farming, and made a decent living from it. I didn’t want to do anything else. However over the years it has become harder and harder to make a living solely from farming, running a hill farm of 2000 sheep was not paying the way.
“As a family we have taken every opportunity of diversifying. Young farmers have to work twice as hard nowadays and I want to support my family to succeed on the farm as much as I can.
“My father lived on a small holding of 30 acres milking 12 cows and keeping 400 hens to sell eggs and made a decent living but young people can’t do this anymore.”
Determined to succeed, the first step on the diversification ladder came when the family built wind turbines on the land, which provided them with an extra income.
The second phase of diversification started three years ago with the launch of micro-brewery Cwm Rhondda Ales, brainchild of Arwel Jones. The brewery now specialise in bottled beer, rather than kegs, and have adapted their business over time. Arwel brews the beer once a week or fortnight depending on demand.
And now the family have also opened Cwm Farm Shop at Abergorki Industrial Estate, Treorchy.
“We were seeking an additional outlet for ales produced by Cwm Rhondda Ales, as well as meat from the farm. We were also very keen to support other local farmers and businesses, and the farm shop ticks all the boxes,” said Grug Jones.
The farm shop stocks Welsh-only produce including eggs, milk, chutneys, chocolate, crisps, meat from Cig Mynydd Cymru, a farm cooperative set up by former FUW Vice President Lorraine Howells, and vegetables from Elwyn’s Produce in the Vale of Glamorgan. There is also a café, which serves the local products on display.
“We are proud to offer Welsh products and celebrate the heritage of Welsh food and drink. Everything is as local as possible. All meat and vegetable is sourced from within 30-miles and we are very grateful to have people like Lee Pritchard and Lorraine Howells from Cig Mynydd Cymru to help us. Lee has worked really hard to make sure we are successful with the meat, even with the butchering of our own,” added Grug.
Speaking after the visit, FUW Glamorgan CEO Rachel Saunders said:
“It was a real inspiration to see the different arms of diversification put in place by the Jones family. With such an enthusiastic team at the helm, the farm, brewery and farm shop no doubt have a bright future ahead.”