STATUS: For Immediate Release. 13th December 2018. 12.00 Noon
New Consortium Purchases Wales’ First Community Farm
A new era has dawned for the formerly community-owned Ffarm Moelyci near Bangor. The farm has now been purchased from Moelyci Environmental Centre (In administration) Ltd by a consortium of a dozen interested parties representing former tenants, supporters, neighbours, community groups and local small businesses. The consortium of owners came together in August 2017 to bid for the farm when its owners were forced to put it on the open market to clear their debts.
Security and certainty will underpin future developments
To the outside world, the appearance of the farm and its planned development will not change much in the near future. The farm shop and cafe will continue its operation after a short break during this winter and the allotments organisation can now recommence cultivating their plots with confidence. Snowdonia Donkeys’ work with children and the community will expand as they take over additional buildings and land, and the education barn and community kitchen will still be available for hire for functions, events and the popular pop-up restaurant evenings. Most of the planned small-scale biomass plant has recently arrived from Scotland and will be commissioned in the New Year, a calendar of events is being drawn up for 2019, and the public rights of way across the farm remain open to all.
“It is a huge relief after all the twists and turns and dogged hard work of the last two years, to have secured the farm’s future” said Colin Keyse, founder of the consortium company Ymlaen Moelyci Cyf. “whilst we now have the farm privately owned by twelve different parties, their interests are complementary to each other’s and represent much of the strategic plan that had been developed under the previous tenant, Cwm Harry Land Trust’s guidance”.
Ruth Stronge of Snowdonia Donkeys said “we are delighted that our donkeys no longer face the prospect of having to find a new home before Christmas. We can look forward to putting our plans for the future into action in the New Year”. Andy Crabb of Tregarth Community Allotments CIC said “Our members are delighted that our future here is secure and we can welcome more new members to join our friendly group”
Farming once more at Moelyci
The ecologically important grasslands and heaths at the farm will once again be grazed by sheep and cattle. In 2017, two thirds of the farm was designated as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) by Natural Resources Wales, in recognition of the significant value of the rare flora and fungi to be found across the farm which has been carefully documented over the previous 15 years. A specialised management plan is being developed by the new landowners, the farmer, NRW and the Welsh Government to encompass both viable livestock rearing and ecological conservation.
A local young farmer, Gwawr Owen of Ffridd farm in Llandegai has purchased the 200 acre Moelyci mountain and will also be grazing the Ffridd and semi-natural grasslands at Moelyci lower farm. Ambitious plans are being discussed to make better use of the facilities at Moelyci to host activities that will support the promotion of small family farms in the area and the world-class produce they raise.
With the ownership of the farm now secure and the burden of historical debt lifted, the new owners at Moelyci are looking ahead with confidence to improving the facilities and activities available to the community from next year onwards. Further information on planned events will be published early in the New Year.
Notes for Editors:
Troubled history hamstrings rescue attempts
The 390 acre former hill farm had been owned and operated by Moelyci Environmental Centre Ltd., an Industrial and Provident Society, from 2003 until 2013 and was run as an environmental conservation and education centre. Following a complete change of board of directors in July 2013, the owners engaged an environmental charity from Newtown in Powys: Cwm Harry Land Trust, to take over the running of the farm under a lease, with an option to purchase the freehold. Despite strenuous attempts to reach agreement with its creditors, the owners were forced to offer part of the farm for sale in spring 2017 to clear their most pressing obligations. However the legacy of historical problems persisted and in July 2017, Cwm Harry announced that it was no longer able to purchase the whole farm and offered to end its tenancy if the farm were sold on the open market.
A crisis creates a new solution.
At this point, several individuals and organisations who had been planning to become tenants when Cwm Harry became the new owner were faced with a stark choice: buy your part of the farm in full, or prepare to leave. Following intensive discussions, a consortium company Ymlaen Moelyci Cyfyngedig was formed and a bid prepared to buy the whole farm in time for the deadline of 17th November 2017. There followed a protracted period of discussion where the consortium was eventually confirmed as the preferred bidder with a collective total offer just surpassing the latest open market valuation. Just when it seemed that the deal was in the bag, the owners were forced to appoint administrators to handle the remainder of the sale process. There followed a further delay whilst the administrators RSM Restructuring Advisory LLP reviewed the marketing to date and appointed independent agents, Jones Peckover to confirm that the offer from the consortium was the best value available to the company’s creditors. Completion of the purchase was finally confirmed on 4th December.
The structure of the new organisation is unusual in that it is neither a traditional Cooperative nor a company with shareholders, but instead is a collection of parties with overlapping common interests who are each members of the consortium company and who have agreed to follow a set of rules and agreements to help each other and promote the many varied activities on the farm to a much wider audience than before. The consortium company acts as a forum through which developments can be planned and collaboration enabled.
Individual members include:
Ymlaen Moelyci Cyf. a non-profit distributing company which will directly operate the Education barn and community kitchen and the proposed mixed-use events area as well as converting an old farm building to micro business units and land earmarked for a farm-scale renewable energy generation and storage scheme.
Cwm Harry Land Trust – an environmental charity which will develop its novel small scale Biomass-to-Biofuel plant on the farm, funded under the EU’s Interreg 5b NWE international collaboration programme. Cwm Harry will also continue to run and develop the very popular Blas Lon Las farm shop and cafe on the farm.
Tregarth Community Allotments Community Interest Company – will own and operate the large allotments garden on the farm – with improved facilities as well as providing more plots for new members.
Snowdonia Donkeys Charitable Incorporated Organisation – will expand their operation, refurbishing a former cart-shed as a new headquarters and teaching facility and working with the farmer to manage grazing of certain areas at different times of the year.
Gwawr Owen and Michael Jones – a local young farming family have purchased Moelyci mountain and are leasing the remainder of the grazing on the farm from other consortium members. Working closely with the owners, Natural Resources Wales and an officer of the Welsh Government’s Glastir Advanced agri-environmental scheme, they will be using a mixture of farming and land management techniques to conserve and enhance the valuable habitats on the farm.
Three local private individuals have between them purchased the majority of the important habitat on the lower farm, which include a nationally important site for Waxcap fungi, and other unusual plants. Several blocks of broadleaved woodland have also been secured, one of which will be actively managed for green wood products.
A local business has purchased the former farmhouse and adjoining land and plans to develop a limited number of high-quality accommodation units of different types for visitors and those attending education courses and events on the site.
Further information from: Ymlaen Moelcyi Cyf. Ffarm Moelyci, Lôn Felin Hen, Tregarth, Bangor LL57 4BB 01248 602793 Colin Keyse: Director 07989 341352. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
How to keep in touch with the future of the farm
Dear members and friends,
You have already seen our update above that explains how the sale of the farm is progressing. We hope you have a degree of confidence that, despite the trials and tribulations of recent times, the farm and its community benefit are being secured to the best of our ability.
The most used part of the farm, the lower farm (Lots 1 and 2), is being sold to a series of buyers who have agreed to continue to build the environmental quality of the land and to keep the farm open to the community and to optimise the social benefits. Ymlaen Moelyci Cyf has worked tirelessly to make this future possible and will continue to develop opportunities at Ffarm Moelyci.
How can I find out more about the future of Ffarm Moelyci?
If you would like to be kept informed with news from Ffarm Moelyci, hear about events and activities etc. then you need to FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW and subscribe to Ymlaen Moelyci’s subscribers list.
MEC, as stated in our earlier update, will not be undertaking any future marketing to those registered on our database. Your only chance to keep in touch with Ffarm Moelyci activities is to opt in to Ymlaen Moelyci’s database using THE LINK BELOW.
The great work undertaken by this community over the last fifteen years is not being lost. The future of the farm lies with its new owners. To lend them your support and keep in touch with what they are doing then register for their newsletter.