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.”
Lecture considers the future of war
INTERNATIONALLY renowned war scholar and military conflict expert, Professor Christopher Coker delivered this year’s Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture on Thursday (Nov 16).
Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a prolific author on all aspects of war. He is a former NATO Fellow, a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US, Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo.
In his lecture entitled ‘Still ‘The Human Thing’? Thucydides, Waltz & the Future of War”, Professor Coker discussed war as a feature of what we call ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ in general, while focusing on urgent contemporary issues such as possible changes in the nature of war by the blurring of the distinction between humans and machines.
He also considered how, as Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more a fact of life, the traditional functions and forms of war could change, discussing such questions as: will we still need war and will war still need us?
Talking ahead of the the event, Professor Ken Booth of Aberystwyth University said: “Chris Coker is a very imaginative, interesting, and controversial thinker. Intellectually ambitious, he always addresses the biggest questions. The titles of some of his most recent books attest to this: Future War, Can War be Eliminated?, Warrior Geeks: how 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think about War, The Improbable War: China, the US, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict and Men at War: what Fiction tells us about Conflict. We can be sure of a fascinating and challenging lecture about a supremely important area of human behaviour.”
The Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture brings distinguished scholars to Aberystwyth to talk about issues that were central to the concerns of the late Ken Waltz, the leading theorist of international relations over many decades.
Hosted by the David Davies Memorial Institute and the Department of International Politics, this year’s lecture was held in the Main Hall in the International Politics Building on the Penglais Campus.
Youth Service invited to international training event
TWO Youth Workers from Ceredigion Youth Service have been selected to represent the UK on a week’s training opportunity in Horažd’ovice in the Czech Republic.
‘The danger of a Single Story’ is a training course funded by Erasmus+, that combines stories, media, global education and active citizenship to empower trainers, educators and youth workers with the tools to educate young people on issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment.
Elen James, Head of Youth Engagement and Continuing Education, said: “We are extremely proud of both Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton, 270 people had applied, for 24 places, 2 were allocated for the UK and both places have been assigned to Ceredigion Youth Service staff.
“This is an excellent training opportunity for them, which will inform them and encourage them to reflect on the evolution of media and the consequences that it has on the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. We wish them all the best in Prague!”
Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton will join 22 other Youth Workers from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The week will be hosted at the PROUD Environmental Centre approximately 120km from Prague, from Sunday (Nov 19) for a week.
Rebeca Davies, School Based Youth Worker said: “I’m really looking forward to visiting Prague, and meeting other Youth Workers from across the World. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn new tools and techniques to encourage and empower young people back here in Ceredigion.”
Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker added: “I’m looking forward to learning more about different Youth Work methods and approaches. I’m also eager to develop a greater awareness around education, active citizenship and democracy.”
Cabinet member for Learning Services, Children and Young People’s Partnership, Councillor Catrin Miles, commented: “As a Council, we are very proud of the hard work of our Youth Service to the young people of the county. This will be a very important and worthwhile opportunity for Rebeca and Guto to represent Ceredigion and Wales and we wish them all the best at the event.”
Pot Noodles bought with theft proceeds
ON WEDNESDAY (Nov 15), Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court heard that a 23-year-old man stole an HDMI cable from a store and sold it for a tenner to buy ten Pot Noodles.
Joel Alexander Owens, of Portland Street in Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol to the value of £24.96 belonging to his hometown’s B&M Bargains on June 29. He also admitted stealing an HDMI cable to the value of £14 belonging to Tesco in Aberystwyth on September 24.
Prosecuting, Helen Tench said a staff member at B&M was notified by a member of the public about a male who left the store without paying for items.
CCTV footage was checked, which showed Owens select a number of alcoholic items and leaving the store without making any payments.
Police officers later viewed the footage and identified the defendant.
On October 14, a member of staff at Tesco was informed of the incident at B&M. The Tesco CCTV footage was viewed as a result and the defendant was seen removing an HDMI cable from its box on September 24 and leaving without paying.
Ms Tench said Owens was interviewed on October 19, where he admitted committing the offences in his personal statement.
The defendant also admitted he sold the HDMI cable for £10 in order to buy ten Pot Noodles.
Defending, Katy Hanson said Owens pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and admitted to stealing beer and cider from B&M.
Probation officer Julian Davies stated that the defendant was currently serving a 12-month community order for two previous offences of theft and a breach of a conditional discharge.
Aberystwyth magistrates revoked Owens community order and imposed a 12-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a four-week curfew.
Owens was told to pay prosecution costs of £85, compensation of £14 to Tesco and compensation of £24.96 to B&M Bargains.
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