When Ann Lewis took over the running of her family farm in South Wales, the Menter Moch Cymru project stepped in to help her get her venture off to the best possible start.
In 2006, Ms Lewis returned to her family’s 50-acre Cathelyd Isaf Farm, near Swansea. After a few years her parents sadly passed away, but Ms Lewis decided to take on the running of the farm; stocking it with cattle, sheep, hens, and a herd of native breed pigs – run on an outdoor system with woodland foraging access.
Not wanting to go down the route of modern pig production, Ms Lewis opted for traditional, slow-growing pig breeds, with a view to marketing meat directly to customers.
To help Ms Lewis launch her business, Menter Moch Cymru offered her the support to create a website, an online sales platform, and logo. The project also provided a £750 grant for marketing material too.
“I have a background in IT, but I learned so much during four [digital marketing] sessions,” Ms Lewis said.
Ms Lewis was also given support for product labelling. “Menter Moch Cymru hosted a webinar with a labelling expert, with advice such as making sure the labels are good enough to withstand freezer temperatures, things I wouldn’t have thought of. I even had my first batch of labels paid for from the funding I received,” she added.
Through the rural development project, Ms Lewis has attended 8 different training sessions. She also took part in a Menter Moch Cymru-funded tour of pig farms in Devon, in March of this year; which was beneficial for both educational and social reasons.
“There were pig farmers from every part of Wales on that visit,” she says, “it brought us together and we have since kept in touch.”
Ms Lewis has also implemented some of the things she learnt from the Devon farms, on her own farm in Wales.
“There was one farmer who was running his herd on fields of beet and another who was growing pumpkins on a manure heap.” As such, Ms Lewis has reseeded a field with a pig pasture seed mix that incorporates forage rape, kale, stubble turnips, vetch and ryegrasses, and she has plans to grow pumpkins, squash, swede and turnips also.
The Menter Moch Cymru project also provided Ms Lewis with a fully-funded Herd Health Plan. “It is comforting to have a herd health plan and the support of the vet, to get advice around issues like biosecurity,” said Ms Lewis.
With the successes of her pig meat venture, and the support from Menter Moch Cymru, Ms Lewis is now considering adding further meats to her range, such as beef from her Dexter and Shorthorn cattle.