Why David would be an effective mentor
- David farms at his diversified farm business located to the east of Cardiff. A total of 300 acres are farmed with 200 acres of no till arable land which is mostly free draining sandy clay loam formed from stony glacial debris. The farm also supports a small sheep flock and has diversified into Christmas tree production, letting residential barns and renewable energy which produces enough energy for 500 homes from a privately-owned wind turbine and solar parks. With over 15 years’ experience of establishing and managing diversification projects, David can provide guidance to those considering diversifying their businesses.
- The farm traditionally relied on producing field scale vegetable supplying wholesale markets in the area but the land is now used for combinable crops, Christmas trees and some sheep grazing. In the last few years, the land has been transformed from shallow cultivations to minimal till. Wheat, oats and a break crop are grown with the addition of winter linseed this year.
- In 2008, David decided to start growing Christmas trees and after 10 years of weeding, watering and pruning, he is retailing trees direct from his farm. The farm currently sells around 1,000 trees per year, with 3,000 a year being planted for planned expansion. Always looking to expand his knowledge and experience in the field, David travelled to Ireland and Demark in 2019 as part of the Farming Connect Management Exchange programme to learn more about tree management techniques and Noble Fir production. He is keen to share his knowledge of this field with other farmers within the industry.
- David also has extensive experience of the renewable energy sector. David owns his own renewable energy company which provides enough energy to supply 500 homes from wind and solar installations built on his farm. These installations include a wind turbine, field scale solar and solar roof panels. David oversaw the entire project development therefore has knowledge of the entire process, from planning and construction to operation and finance. He is also a director of a community not for profit company which has installed Superfast 1gb broadband to over 200 homes in the locality.
- With excellent communication and listening skills, David can provide a sounding board for those looking to drive their businesses forward.
Current farm business
- 300 acres
- 18 acres of land growing Christmas trees
- 200 acres of arable land growing cereals
- 5 acres of cider apple orchards
- 40 acres of land on the Gwent Levels SSSI in the Glastir Advanced Scheme
- Renewables including a 330kw wind turbine and 1.8mw field scale solar
- 50 ewes
- Barn conversions which are let as short term accommodation
- 1979-82: OND in Agriculture, Usk College
- nearly 40 years as a partner in my business.
- 2019: Management Exchange Programme, Farming Connect
Tips for business success:
1. “Every business has a unique set of circumstances; your situation is different to those around you so don’t follow what others do.”
2. “Don’t rush into ventures – examine every possibility and get good advice. Most people who have diversified are more than happy to help you, but you will have to spend many hours on research yourself. The internet is invaluable.”
3. “Ensure you have a really good relationship with your accountants, bank manager and solicitor. Make sure they all understand farming and know you, your family and business well.”
4. “You must enjoy whatever business change you make and it doesn’t have to be agricultural or on farm.”