Why Rachel would be an effective mentor
- Alongside traditional family farming, Rachel’s entrepreneurial streak has been to the fore since her family first decided to transform under-utilised farm buildings into holiday cottages over 20 years ago. These proved a sound investment, providing an additional source of income. Most significantly, they gave Rachel the confidence to set up many more successful visitor-related enterprises.
- She developed a small cottage letting agency, maximising income for other local holiday cottage owners. Over time, turnover was in excess of several million pounds. She credits its success with her willingness to embrace technology and the internet, which enabled her to market extensively for minimal costs. Rachel says that social media played a large part in developing the business which she subsequently sold to a national holiday letting company.
- In 2020 during the lockdown period, under-utilised areas of the farm were transformed for visitors. “Pembrokeshire Pumpkins”, a successful diversification enterprise now works well alongside traditional farming. From an initial single pumpkin ‘patch’ this has developed beyond the PYO enterprise to include Halloween-themed indoor and outdoor activities. They now have a spooky trail walk and provide barn activities including pumpkin carving and a popular educational venture where visitors can see and learn about exotic spiders. All seasonal visitor opportunities are marketed almost entirely through social media.
- A relaxed and confident communicator, who admits to ‘conversational Welsh’ Rachel is looking forward to her role as a Farming Connect mentor, having derived great satisfaction from working alongside several tourism businesses in recent years. These have included farm camping in rustic pods, the conversion of a large country house to provide holiday accommodation and helping a family develop and promote new out-of-season visitor attractions.
Current farm business
- Mainly arable cropping (grain etc) with grassland used for tack sheep
- Pumpkin and sunflower fields with ancillary visitor attractions
- Three crops of haylage (specifically for the equine trade) harvested each year
- Three holiday letting properties
- Two permanent letting properties
- Visitor/school group attractions/farming related benefits currently include:
- Pumpkins – with on farm picking and selling supported by Halloween-related attractions, including a spooky trail and indoor barn activities such as pumpkin carving and spider workshops
- Waste/surplus pumpkins are collected by local farmers who regard these as natural cattle and sheep wormer remedies
- PYO sunflowers during the summer months. After flowering, seeds are collected and mixed in with forage for cattle
- Woodland play area, wildflower meadow, bug hotel, picnic areas, disc golf etc
- Rachel’s career began as an HM Customs and Excise preventative officer, giving her valuable experience of working with the public as well as managerial and administrative know-how.
- A partner in the family farm business, she’s been the driving force behind many tourism ventures – with hands-on experience of starting up new diversification enterprises both at home and through advising other farming families who have welcomed her knowledge and expertise.
- She has won numerous Welsh ‘business’ awards including:
- Royal Mail marketing campaign – Wales (UK runner up)
- Wales Department of Trade & Industry’s small business award for e-commerce (she was also a runner up for the UK’s e-commerce award scheme)
- Welsh Business Woman of the Year runner-up
- Past-chair, current trustee and committee member for the Women in Wales charity
- Rachel is an enthusiastic and experienced fund-raiser for numerous charities including Women in Wales. She has recently generated more than £8,000 for families in the Ukraine, as well as funds for Riding for the Disabled, the To Wish Foundation and Wales’ Noah’s Ark children’s hospital, all through on- farm activities.
- She represented Save the Children as an ambassador – visiting small businesses, often run by women, and educational projects in areas of cyclone devastation.
Top tips for business success
“Change can be a difficult concept for traditional farmers, but don’t be afraid to adapt! Talk to others who have made a success of new ventures. Listen, learn, ask questions!”