After many months and long hours of campaigning, the fight led by the Community Benefit Society ‘Cymdeithas Trecadwgan’ to secure Trecadwgan Farm for the community has come to an end. At auction on Wednesday 4th March the organisation was outbid by £38K, a sum that was out of the reach of the community’s backer and supporters .
A spokesperson for the group has said:
“Whilst the founder members of Cymdeithas Trecadwgan are deeply disappointed not to have secured Trecadwgan Farm for the community, we have been truly humbled by the support shown by so many individuals and organisations and take some solace from the fantastic spirit and community that has grown around the campaign”
The decision to sell Trecadwgan Farm by public auction was announced by Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) on Wednesday 5th February. Whilst legislation allows County Council to dispose of land at a price below its commercial value, PCC had decided not to do so in this instance.
Members of the community had worked tirelessly in support of the farm purchase. The purchase would have been a unique opportunity for the local community, actively delivering on the Well-being and Future Generations (Wales) Act and Welsh Government policy (2014), on the environment and on the Foundational Economy.
The plan of Cymdeithas Trecadwgan, formulated by many in the community, was to create a place of enterprise that would include ecological farming, employment, education, artisanal crafts, food production and a hub for food processing. The broad aim of all these activities was health and wellbeing and the sustainability of rural communities in the area.
Within the national agricultural agenda and the changing fortunes of farming, establishing Trecadwgan Farm as a community farm represented a clear and strong opportunity to meet national policy imperatives. The lack of support of Pembrokeshire Council and incompetence in the sales process has ensured that the opportunity may well have been lost forever.
County farms like Trecadwgan are one of the most powerful levers that local authorities have for helping new entrants into farming. They offer real potential to support local food systems, promote innovative farming methods and deliver environmentally sustainable farming. Within the national agenda, Trecadwgan is one of many county farms sold and now lost to the community.
It is the intention of the board of Cymdeithas Trecadwgan to continue campaigning to both protect County Farms and to drive policy change at both local and governmental level where the sale of these public assets is concerned.
The disappointing lack of support shown by Pembrokeshire County Council in the sale of Trecadwgan Farm, combined with the inherent flaws of the sales process has ensured this opportunity has been lost for ever. Serious concerns remain unanswered regarding the mismanagement of the sale by PCC and further questions will be asked.
The campaign has gathered immense support from partner organisations and politicians across Wales. In coming months these relationships will be strengthened to continue the work already begun.
“The vision for Trecadwgan is exceptional and, given the chance, I have no doubt it can and will succeed. It is a crucial part of the rejuvenation we need of our county farms as places which help to rebuild rural communities around land, healthy food and nature, and which create and sustain rewarding, meaningful livelihoods.”
Graeme Willis-Agricultural lead and county farms campaigner, CPRE The countryside charity
“If outbid, not only would this beautiful farm be taken out of public or community ownership, it might potentially cease to be used as a farm at all. In either case, an exciting opportunity to create a trailblazing agroecological farm to ensure the wellbeing of the current and future community would be lost”
Landworkers’ Alliance- Cymru
“Rydym wedi colli gormod o ffermwydd cyngor dros y degawd diwethaf oherwydd fod cynghorau wedi gorfod eu gwerthu er mwyn sicrhau incwm. Mae’n bolisi tymor byr sy’n niweidiol i ddyfodol amaethyddiaeth a chefn gwlad yn y pendraw.”
“Os nad yw’r Cyngor am gadw fferm, mae’n hanfodol fod y gymuned yn cael y dewis cyntaf o ran ei redeg. Byddwn felly am weld mentrau cymunedol fel Fferm TreCadwgan yn cael cyfle i ddatblygu’r fferm yno a sicrhau budd i’r gymuned yn lle’n bod ni’n gweld adnoddau cyhoeddus gwerthfawr a thir amaeth pwysig yn cael eu colli am byth.”
Llyr Gruffydd AC,_llefarydd materion gwledig Plaid Cymru
“County farms can and should play an important role in developing and sustaining the rural economy. The Trecadwgan Farm Project is an outstanding initiative, creating a community farm with long term benefits. It could represent the best of Wales’s distinctive and ambitious policies, in the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.”
Sue Pritchard- Director of RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission