The National Trust’s search for a conservation farming hero to take on its £1m farm for a pound a year is over – after a hunt that drew interest from around the world.
Dan Jones, 38, from Anglesey, has been named as the conservation charity’s new shepherd for the 124 acre Parc Farm in North Wales.
He will pick up the keys to the farm on the Great Orme, Llandudno, in September where he’ll take a nature-first approach to farming in a place which is home to rare habitats and species found nowhere else on earth.
Dan said: “I couldn’t quite believe it when I got the call to say I was successful. I was in shock. My wife Ceri, son Efan and I are just super excited. This opportunity will change our lives.
“Y Parc is a dream farm, it is such a beautiful location, the views are amazing, and I’m really looking forward to farming in a different way to make a difference for nature.
“With the tenancy at just a pound, it allows us to be able to farm far less intensively, focus on improving the habitats, share more of what we’ll be doing with visitors and still produce great food.”
William Greenwood, National Trust general manager, said: “Our search for a farmer for the £1m Parc Farm sparked international interest, and we were taking calls from potential applicants at the rate of over 100 an hour for days. Whittling down the applicants was an exhaustive task, but Dan and his wife, Ceri, absolutely stood out from the crowd.”
The announcement of the unique £1 tenancy in May followed the publication of the conservation charity’s new ten-year vision, aimed at taking a ‘nature first’ approach to reverse the alarming decline in wildlife – 60 per cent in the past 50 years – and finding long term solutions to help nurse the countryside back to health.
Earlier this month, the trust also called on the government to put the recovery and future resilience of the natural environment at the heart of the funding system that will replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The National Trust took action to buy the farm, and grazing rights over an additional 720 acres of the Great Orme, in May last year not only because some of its key habitats and species were deemed at threat, but because it was being sold with the potential to develop its fragile limestone grasslands into a golf course.
The Great Orme is home to wild cotoneaster and two subspecies of butterfly, the grayling and the silver-studded blue that exist nowhere else on earth.
“In taking on Parc Farm last year we made a commitment to do all that we can for this incredible landscape,” added William Greenwood, “and what was obvious was that the only way we could do the best for nature here is by getting the grazing right.
“To ensure a healthy and beautiful landscape we need the most agriculturally productive pastureland to be grazed less, and the least agriculturally productive grassland to be grazed more, which is pretty counterproductive and requires a farmer with a unique set of skills.”
With just over six and a half weeks until Dan, Ceri, their son Efan, eight, and their five working dogs move in to Parc Farm on the first of October there’s plenty for them to do.
Dan said: “We need to move out of our current house, bring our B&B business to a close, sell 1,000 sheep, wind up three tenancies we hold on Anglesey, and get Efan signed up for his new school – it’s pretty full on!”
One of Daniel’s first actions as the new tenant of Parc Farm will be to buy his new Orme flock, which will be paid for by the trust’s partner, conservation charity, Plantlife.