FIRST on our list of visits in Somerset recently was Worthy farm, home of the Gold Cup winning dairy herd and the world famous Glastonbury festival, writes Wales YFC youth forum chairman Jonathan Evans.
We were shown around by Michael Eavis along with dairy manager John Taylor and farm manager Steve Kearle who described what went in to running such a unique farm. The fact that none of the land could be ploughed – because of the network of wiring running through each field and the logistics of having 180,000 people take over the farm each summer – made seeing such a high performing herd of cows all the more impressive.
With the Pyramid stage being literally a stone’s throw from the dairy, we were all reeling off questions about how the cattle reacted to it. John explained that they just get used to the noise and certainly weren’t phased by having 30 young farmers walking through them. Next we made our way to Sheppy’s Cider Factory, a small, family-run business which had been operating for more than 100 years.
They had recently invested heavily in modern cider pressing machinery to satisfy the growing demand for their produce. We were shown around the process and had the chance to buy some to take home. The following day we made our way to the Somerset levels where we were eager to find out what life was like during the extensive flooding they had in February 2014. We met up with James Winslade on his farm – one of 15 to be totally flooded.
The extent of the flooding was staggering. The effort to save livestock as well as personal belongings had been incredible. We heard about the forage donation project, which received so much national support. Mr Winslade was a charismatic speaker and it was clear why he had taken the role of communicating local issues with the press and government. He had instigated the dredging of local man-made rivers in a bid to avoid such flooding happening again.
After a stop off at Sedgemore Market, we visited Rhodri Davies, of Rosedew, Llantwit Major, and his remarkable family on the way home. Having moved from Lampeter and bought the farm when he was 25, Mr Davies had built a business to which it seemed there was no end! They were farming over 1,600acres and he admitted he was struggling to keep the farm a priority amongst all his other enterprises.
From holiday cottages, a wedding venue, two butchers’ shops, shed construction, renewable energy, Christmas trees, haulage and much more. His phone was red hot! We were lucky enough to walk in on one of the butchers at his work and had a good demonstration of how cattle, lambs and chickens were butchered. Rhodri explained to us that they had held 50 weddings this year with as many bookings for next year. He was very open with figures and we had a great opportunity to ask questions to a successful man and entrepreneur. After what we saw in Somerset we thought it could not be topped, but this farm was certainly right up there! We left Rosedew inspired.
It just goes to show you don’t have to go far to find some top class people. I think I speak for all when I say the trip was an educational, motivating and enjoyable weekend.
A big thank you to all who came and helped organise it.