Smallholders Gather to Share Change Strategies

Article excerpt

Meyrick Brown looks at the inaugural meeting of the newly-formed Ceredigion Smallholder Network RHIPPINLLWYD, a family farm of 150 acres at Cwmcou, near Newcastle Emlyn, was the ideal venue for the inaugural meeting of the Ceredigion Smallholder Network.

The farm, run by Tony and Laurel Brookin for almost 30 years, illustrates the kind of changes that the owners of small holdings have had to carry out as financial returns have diminished.

The former dairy farmers now rear livestock, work as contractors and offer educational visits and tours of the farm to community groups and schools. Evening visits by torchlight have proved very popular.

The Brookins sold off their dairy herd around 10 years ago and turned their attention to fattening up to 40 continental breed store cattle off grass over the summer months.

They also developed their January indoor lambing flock of 140 pedigree Polled Dorset ewes - an enterprise that began as a complement to the milking cows.

And they turned nine acres into mixed woodland, with native broadleaf and conifer varieties.

The expertise Tony gained from the woodland venture has enabled him to begin advising others in the Tir Gofal scheme. And, in cooperation with a couple of friends, he now works on fencing contracts for other farmers.

Tony sees the outlook for farmers as constantly changing. "We have always to be adaptable to these changes and to follow a route that will help to keep us in profit," he says.

The idea for the Ceredigion Smallholders Network arose from a discussion between a group of smallholders who were learning Welsh on an Wlpan course at Lampeter University.

Jacqui Parkes, who breeds Dexter cattle at Penuwch, near Tregaron set up a website - www. …