Why Barbara would be an effective mentor

  • Coming from a non-farming background, Barbara always dreamt of being a farmer and is now a proud owner of a 222-acre dairy farm with husband Derek. They started out renting a 36-acre County Council farm in 1984, beating 65 other individuals to secure the contract. With her husband working off-farm, Barbara farmed whilst raising 3 children. Five to six years later, she secured a tenancy on another nearby 135-acre farm which she used to produce silage. In 1994, she received shocking news that a prison would be built on their county council holding and had to find another farm. This is how they found Ivy House. Originally a 70-acre farm, they have since purchased surrounding land and the farm now extends over 220 acres.
  • Barbara was always told that she needed to be born into farming in order to be a farmer, which gave her the determination to pursue her dream and prove people wrong. After school she studied culinary at Glyndŵr University before securing her first cooking job at Llysfasi College. Having set foot in the agricultural world, she went on to study a number of ATB agricultural courses, which is how she learnt to farm. 35 years ago, Barbara studied an AI course and being the only woman on the course, she says that completing it is a highlight in her farming career.
  • In 2010, Barbara diversified into producing pumpkins for Halloween. Using a spare field and information researched on the internet, Barbara got to work and the decision proved to be a success. The pumpkin patch is open during October where customers can pick their own pumpkins. There is also a crafts tent for children, a small café and a Halloween themed maze.
  • Barbara found advertising the new enterprise costly and time consuming at first, but since its opening the popularity of social media has grown and she now primarily uses social media platforms to promote the business. The business now has over 11 thousand likes on Facebook! Barbara also believes that word of mouth is the best marketing tool for any business.
  • The business diversified again in 2019 with a Pick Your Own enterprise growing strawberries, which is opening to the public in 2020. The strawberry fields currently compromise of two acres of early season, one acre of midseason and one acre of late season variety. Barbara says that she is still learning and trialling what works best.
  • Barbara has experience in many different fields and enjoys meeting people and sharing her experiences. A good listener, Barbara can provide impartial opinion or perspective based on her personal knowledge and experience. She also understands the challenges that farmers face every day and the affect that they can have on their mental health.

Current farm business

  • 222 acres owned and 22 acres rented
  • 140 cow herd (mostly Friesian cows with some Shorthorn and Jersey Crosses), with milk sold to Arla
  • 24:24 herringbone parlour
  • Currently employ two relief milkers
  • 4-acres pumpkin patch
  • 3-acres of strawberries for the PYO enterprise

Qualifications / achievements / experience

  • 1976: Culinary, Glyndŵr University
  • 1979: ATB Agricultural Courses including lambing, foot trimming shearing and AI.
  • 2004 - 2016: National Dairy Chairman, Women’s Food and Farming Union
  • 2011: NFU Welsh Woman Farmer of the Year
  • 2019 – present: Chairman, RWAS Fundraising Committee

Top tips for business success

“If you have a dream, follow it through. With ambition, determination and hard work you can achieve anything.”