11 December 2020


If coronavirus has scuppered your plans for Christmas shopping, don’t despair! An enterprising group of young women from North Wales may have the perfect solution. If your nearest and dearest are involved with farming or rural affairs, why not buy them a ‘Dyddiadur Amaeth 2021 Agricultural Diary’?  

Now in its sixth year of production, this year’s diary is the impressive legacy of a Farming Connect Agrisgôp group which first got together in 2014. At just £7.99, the forest green hard-back A4 diary, which is full of useful rural contacts and includes dedicated pages for storing farm records and useful business data, might just prove to be the perfect gift! 

The small circle of friends who all live in the Penllyn area of Bala, credit the support of Agrisgôp, Farming Connect’s action-learning initiative, and in particular their leader Lowri Rees Roberts, with giving them the confidence and contacts they needed to develop their successful venture.  

Lowri says it’s testament to the group’s abilities to communicate openly, to their willingness to research the project thoroughly and sheer professionalism, which helped them turn a ‘good idea’ into a financially self-supporting success story.

“The diary took two years to plan, which included building up contacts both for sales – achieved largely through direct marketing at rural events and Welsh bookshops - and advertising, before the first 1,000 copies of the 2016 diary, published by Welsh printing company Y Lolfa, went on sale and sold out.

“Since then, the group have worked together tirelessly as a team to steadily build up their very loyal customer-base, which will this year see them publishing 2,000 diaries,” said Lowri.

Alongside revenue from sales, which includes many Welsh businesses buying them for staff, a wide range of rural advertisers now increases year on year, which means a healthy profit margin is being fed back into the business. Although the pandemic put a stop to many of the group’s face to face activities including direct sales at agricultural shows, by keeping in touch remotely and through more online ordering, they are optimistic they will stay on target.

Like many young women and mums, the group valued spending time together, especially since they all had farming and young families in common.   

Rachael Madeley-Davies, a farm consultant, trained barrister, and mum to two little girls, is also involved in helping out at the organic beef and sheep farm she runs in partnership with her husband Geraint. Rachael, one of the original ‘group of six’, says that Agrisgôp provided a critical stepping-stone back in those early days. 

“Turning those weekly ‘me time’ informal chats over a cuppa, into an actual business venture, was a fantastic bonus we would never have thought of until Lowri suggested we should seek support from Farming Connect’s Agrisgôp initiative,” says Rachael.  

Although most of the group members had independent careers which they juggled with families and farming, they all appreciated the opportunity to meet up on a regular basis, often with babies or toddlers in tow, and soon got swept up with enthusiasm for their new publishing venture which, just like their friendship, has stood the test of time and flourished.    

“We realised that even though we all have ready access to mobile phone and computer calendars, we still relied on post-it notes, scraps of paper, pocket notebooks and many other easily mislaid systems, and were certain that a good quality A4 desk diary, designed especially for farmers, would be a welcome addition for lots of busy individuals like us!” 

“All the adverts are grouped together in a special section, which means that our advertisers know that they are visible and accessible to a key target audience throughout the year, and this also means we’re making it easy for farmers to find who or what they want quickly,” says Rachael. 

With extra pages dedicated to keeping records on sheep, cattle and pigs, metric conversion tables and of course plenty of space for both business and social appointments, this diary could be a welcome treat in quite a few of Santa’s sacks this Christmas! 

The Dyddiadur Amaeth 2021 Agricultural Diary (£7.99, Y Lolfa) is available now from most Welsh bookshops or at www.ylolfa.com.

Farming Connect, which is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra, has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

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