Cilgwenyn Bee Farm in Carmarthenshire was recently announced as the winner of the Speciality & Fine Food Fair Rising Sustainability Star Award due to its holistic approach to business after transforming a disused coal mine into a brand new bee farm offering carbon neutral honey.
Based in Llangennech, Rhodri Owen and Richard Jones began their commercial business back in 2010 after keeping bees for many years beforehand. They now produce award-winning, great tasting Welsh raw artisan honey from different parts of Wales available to buy online.
However, at the heart of their business are their ethical and sustainability values to combat climate change. Over the years they have implemented a number of initiatives to produce carbon neutral honey that include creating their own electricity through solar power and planting enough trees to offset 30 years of production of jars and lids. They also give back to their community by training veterans for free to help combat PTSD.
Talking about the award, Rhodri said: “We are delighted to be recognised for our work in helping to save our planet. Sustainability and the environment is key to our business plan. It was never and still is not about money, but a steadfast belief in helping the environment and providing the public with honest and unadulterated high quality raw Welsh Honey from beekeepers.
“For some time we have been concerned about the impact we have as a species on this planet which affects biodiversity, ecology and the climate. We are all intertwined yet we, as humans, are creating the biggest affect, and not always in a good way.
“We ensure we reduce our emissions by using only parts which are sustainable, we produce our own electricity and when we need to purchase electricity we only buy green energy.
“Whilst being sustainable in energy terms we also ensure all of our products are supplied in recyclable materials. Our glass jars are made from 88% recycled material, our steel lids are recyclable, while also made from some recycled material and our labels and boxes are made to be recycled again with a proportion of recycled material. So we are plastic free but there is energy used in their manufacture. To mitigate these we are planting trees on our own land to capture CO₂ over a 100 year lifespan. We are planting many trees to make sure we cover the needs of the business for many years to come.
“In addition by buying our Welsh honey everyone is supporting not just agriculture and farming but helping to reduce the risk of climate change. This is helped by ensuring pollination happens as the diversity of plants ensures that they survive. And the more of our raw artisan honey is consumed, the more everyone is helping to reduce CO₂, reduce plastics, reduce the effect of businesses on the climate and create more natural pollinators.”
Cilgwenyn Bee Farm is part of the Welsh Government’s Sustainability Cluster. The Sustainability Cluster supports and develop sustainable business practices across Wales’ agri-food industry. This will be delivered by utilising the successful triple helix approach, with Welsh Government, industry and academia, working hand in hand to tackle common industry problems.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government launched its future strategic sustainability vision for the Welsh food and drink industry.
Commenting on Cilgwenyn winning this award, the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths said: “A huge congratulations to Rhodri, Richard and everyone at Cilgwenyn Bee Farm on their success. The Speciality & Fine Food Fair Awards champion all that make our food and drink industry so remarkable and inspiring. Cilgwenyn is an excellent example to others on what can be achieved in our efforts to tackle climate change.
“The Welsh Government is committed to helping Welsh food and drink businesses focus on sustainable growth and productivity, their climate and ecological impact as well as fair work and raising standards throughout the industry. We want Wales to be one of the most environmentally and socially responsible supply chains in the world as well as continuing to have a global reputation for excellence.”