NESTLED in the Cambrian Mountains of Mid-Wales, just a short drive outside of Aberystwyth, lies Moelgolomen farm.
The organic 750 acre holding is home to Rhodri Lloyd-Williams, his wife Sarah and their three children – sixyear old Elen, three-year old Ariana, one-year old Cai, as well as 750 Welsh Mountain ewes and 25 Welsh Black suckler cows.
Helping with the running of the holding are Rhodri’s parents, Simon and Monica, who took the farm over in 1975, which has been in the family for over 400 years.
Rhodri and Sarah set up a boxscheme in December last year in a bid to diversify and to offer the community the chance to reduce food miles and purchase their food direct from the farm.
Lambs for the box scheme are butchered just down the road in Machynlleth before being boxed and delivered fresh direct to their customers.
“We’ve always done home kills of our lambs for ourselves (why would we settle for anything less?!) and over the years we started doing a few more for family, and then for friends and then for friends of friends until before long we had orders coming in from everywhere, which is why we decided to set up welshmountainlamb.com to make it easier for people to order and for customers to see where their lamb is coming from,” said Rhodri.
The family also sell their lambs via Dunbia, Llanybydder, where between 5 and 10 percent of it is sold as organic produce throughout UK supermarkets. The rest, accounting for over 80 percent, is exported to Europe.
Rhodri explains that: “for organic lamb to be sold here in the UK the supermarkets want it to weigh in at over 15kg. Because our Welsh Mountain lambs don’t always come in at that weight most of it gets exported to parts of Europe where consumers prefer smaller lambs.”
The Welsh Black cattle are sold as stores at 18 months of age to an organic buyer.
“We pride ourselves on our ethical and sustainable approach to agriculture and have farmed organically since 1999. We have always looked to farm in a sustainable way creating not only an environment where livestock can thrive but also one that is sympathetic to the environment,” Rhodri said.
Moelgolomen farm has been involved in a number of environmental schemes and is currently in the Glastir Scheme.
In the last few years the family have planted up over 30 acres of woodland as well as an orchard and a few miles of hedgerows to create a variety of habitats for wildlife to thrive.
“We’ve planted tens of thousands of trees in the last 20 or so years. Some in our area of ancient Oak woodland, which we stock excluded in the year 2000 and added to the original Oaks upwards of 20,000 trees including Welsh Oak, Scots Pine, Hazel, Willow, Sweet Chestnut, Holly, Cherry and a number of other native tree species.
“Since we’ve fenced the area off we’ve seen other trees self-seed such as Ash, Rowan, Beech and Birch, to leave a rich and varied woodland teeming with life,” explains Rhodri.
In addition to the woodland Rhodri and his family have also planted a few miles of hedgerows around fields, having double fenced areas to keep the livestock out.
“We now have these wildlife corridors linking large areas of the farm allowing wild animals to travel long distances without having to venture from the sanctuary of the hedge lines,” he added.
The family have also installed a hydro-scheme and solar PV so that most of their electrical needs are generated on farm and the rest is imported from a green energy company so the entire farm is powered by renewable sources.
Speaking about their commitment to renewable energy, Rhodri says: “In 2012 our hydro scheme came online which meant for large periods of the winter (and more often than not most of the summer too) the farmhouse and all the sheds were powered by electricity generated on farm.
“As we feel so strongly about renewable technology we have subsequently switched our energy suppliers to a renewable energy company so that even when we are enjoying a dry spell our carbon footprint is minimal.”
The farmhouse lies at 600 feet above sea level with the tops of the hills stretching up to 1500 feet on the fell, allowing the stock to have a large area to roam and a great variety in grasses, clovers and herbs which helps create the distinctive taste of the Welsh Mountain lamb, and because they are left to develop naturally on the hills, the animals mature slowly to create that rich flavour and lean meat associated with their lambs.
“All our sheep lamb outside in March and April, and once they’ve left the lambing fields, after a few days they’re free to roam the hills and enjoy the views.”
And while all seems perfectly idyllic, there is something that worries the family – the upcoming EU referendum.
“I feel responsible for Moelgolomen farm – it has been in our family for over 400 years. And whilst we look at all options to be sustainable and profitable, we are just like many other family farms in Wales, reliant on not just the Single Farm Payment but also access to the European market,” said Rhodri.
The family father of three is under no illusion that things would be very different for his business if the UK chose to leave the European Union in June.
“I would almost certainly be worse off. In all honesty, leaving the EU is not going to be a smart move for agriculture and for the economy as a whole.
“Over 80 percent of my produce gets exported to a market that has access to over 500 million customers – why would I want to put that at risk?
“Those who say we can set up our own trade agreements need to realise that it is not in the interest of the EU to see the UK succeed outside of the European Union and I think they would make it extremely difficult for us to trade with them.
“If it was easy for the UK to access that market after a Brexit – what is there to stop others from leaving as well?
“The thought of putting our family business at risk with the possibility of losing it is just not a chance I want to take.
“The EU is not perfect, that much we know and that’s why we are having this referendum in the first place. People are not happy with the status quo and politicians need to listen.
“But what good could come from walking away from the negotiating table? Let’s do the right thing and keep the conversations open. That way we have a chance of making a change that will affect us positively.”
Adjustment to Safe Zones
In August, temporary traffic orders were introduced so that Safe Zones for four Ceredigion towns could remain for up to 18 months subject to regular reviews so minor adjustments can be made.
In line with the evidence collected on the use of the towns, Ceredigion County Council feel the need to keep the safe zones in place for the time being. Aberaeron and New Quay will continue as they are.
In Cardigan the closures will change to 11am until 4:30pm Monday to Saturday. The safe zones will not be in place on a Sunday in Cardigan. These adjustments will come in to force on Sunday morning, 04 October.
In Aberystwyth, additional parking has been implemented for the disabled and blue badge holders in Chalybeate Street close to the Care Society Mobility Centre.
Further enhancements to provide better access for the disabled and blue badge holders will also continue to be explored.
Safe zones were introduced in Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Cardigan and New Quay on 13 July to create safe and spacious areas for the public to visit and provide the confidence that social distancing can be maintained in these areas.
Safe zones will be in place until at least 01 November 2020 and reviewed fortnightly in line with the infection rate and available evidence.
More information can be seen on the safe zones web page: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/SafeZones
Our responsibility to follow the new Wales coronavirus measures in order to Keep Ceredigion Safe
The Welsh Government is bringing in new coronavirus measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.
To help further prevent the spread of coronavirus, new measures were announced by the First Minister which will come into force at 6pm on Thursday, September 24, 2020:
· Hospitality businesses in Wales will have to close at 10pm and provide table service only.
· All off-licences, including supermarkets, will have to stop selling alcohol at 10pm.
We are also being asked to think carefully about making journeys: only travel where it is essential to do so. The fewer people we meet and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are.
The Welsh Government have also introduced the following measures:
· A new £500 payment to support people on low incomes who are asked to self-isolate if they have coronavirus;
· Strengthened regulations to ensure employers support people who need to self-isolate.
The new measures are part of a package of co-ordinated actions to control the spread of coronavirus and it is essential that we all play our part in order to keep Ceredigion safe.
These new measures are to be introduced alongside those that are already in place:
· Keep a 2m social distance from each other when out and about.
· Wash your hands regularly.
· Wear a mask in indoor public places, shops and on public transport
· Only meet 6 people indoors from your extended household (not including children 11 and under).
· Do not meet with more than 30 people outdoors.
· Work from home, wherever possible.
· Think carefully about making journeys: only travel where you need to do so. The fewer people we meet and the fewer journeys we make, the safer we all are.
We need everyone to follow the rules and guidance and to take the steps to protect them and their loved ones.
Together, we can keep Ceredigion safe.
All the latest information and advice regarding the coronavirus can be found on Ceredigion County Council’s website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk/Coronavirus. The Council’s Corporate Contact Centre number is 01545 570881.
NHS COVID-19 app launches across Wales
People are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help stop the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.
The app launches today [Thursday 24] after positive trials and will be a useful tool when used alongside Wales’ successful manual contact tracing system.
It will be available to those aged 16 and over, and forms a central part of the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.
The roll-out of the app in Wales coincides with a national campaign around how people in Wales can best support the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme, including only getting a test if they are showing symptoms; self-isolating when required; and working with local contact tracers if they are contacted.
Wales’ contact tracing system – which is a publicly-run service and locally delivered – is working well and has seen a very high contract and trace rate. Latest stats show 94% of cases are being successfully contacted.
The app works by logging the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don’t know each other.
The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a test if needed and get your test results.
Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, supporting the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We have worked closely with the app development team to ensure it works seamlessly across Wales and England, providing people with the right advice based on where they live. In Wales, the app will complement our existing contact tracing and testing services and will further support our co-ordinated response to COVID-19 at both a local and national level.
“I strongly encourage everyone in Wales to download and use the app to keep Wales safe.”
The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth. These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.
The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.
Today the UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.
In a joint statement Apple and Google said:
“We built the exposure notifications system to enable public health authorities in their efforts to develop apps to help reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring people can trust in the privacy-preserving design. We are committed to supporting the government’s effort to launch an app based on this technology.”
Whilst the app will be a major support for the contact tracing system, Welsh residents are being reminded to continue to keep Wales safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:
• Always keeping a distance
• Washing hands regularly
• Working from home wherever possible
• Following local restrictions
• Following the rules about meeting people
• Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.
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