The story of the sale of Trecadwgan Farm that has unfolded over the last few months has been through many peaks and troughs. A County farm belonging to Pembrokeshire County Council, its fate will be decided by Auction on the 4th March.
The ‘Save Trecadwgan’ campaign and the Community Benefit Society, Cymeithas Trecadwgan that has been set up to lead the project has huge support. Our core backer will be bidding at the auction with the ambition to save the farm for our community. The reserve price is set for £650,000 but it is anticipated this figure will rise and we are needing to pull in all resources possible to ensure we are fighting from a strong financial position.
Records of Trecadwgan Farm date to the eleventh century. Purchased after World War I by PCC to offer young tenant farmers a livelihood, families have lived and worked at Trecadwgan Farm across generations. When the tenancy of the came to an end two years ago in 2018, PCC decided to sell the property by public auction on July 17th 2019.
Our earliest success was to raise £50,000 to remove Trecadwgan Farm from public auction. The bidding process was subsequently changed from ‘sealed’ bids (whereby would-be purchasers submit their best offer in a sealed envelope by a specific date and the highest offer is usually chosen) to an offer/counter offer process. This culminated in an acceptance by PCC of a successful bid in November from a private backer supporting the Community Group. We were delighted.
Unfortunately, in November due to issues unrelated to the project, the backer withdrew and efforts to secure a new backer were immediately revived. As previous bidders, the Community Group were invited to enter a new sealed bids process; with notice given at 6.30pm on 10thDecember, to close at noon on 13th December 2019. Having successfully and quickly secured a new backer, the duly submitted bid was once again successful and formal acceptance of the bid received.
However, on the 7th of January the Community Group’s new backer was contacted by the agent indicating a higher bid had been submitted by another bidder, despite the process having closed at 12 noon on the 13th of December. Although this process, known as ‘gazumping’, is not technically illegal, it is not considered good or fair practice.
The decision to sell Trecadwgan Farm by public auction was announced by Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC) on Wednesday 5th February. The auction is scheduled for 4th March 2020. Whilst legislation allows a council to dispose of land at a price below its commercial value, the authority have decided not to do so in this instance arguing it is obliged by public interest to secure the best price possible
Members of Cymdeithas Trecadwgan with support from the community have worked tirelessly in support of the farm purchase. The purchase would be 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 farm will be a place of enterprise, ecological farming, employment, education, artisanal crafts an opportunity to promote local health and wellbeing and of food production, including a processing facility for many other farmers in the local area to add value to their produce. Within the national agricultural agenda and in looking at the changing fortunes of farming, establishing Trecadwgan Farm as a community farm represents a profound opportunity to realise the value of an holistic model. The proposals would provide long term well-being and health; contribute to sustaining the rural economy and would provide a rare opportunity to create an innovative agroecological farm to support the sustainability of the community.
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 being sold and the danger of their being lost to the community.
Our campaign to save Trecadwgan is very much ongoing and we would welcome any support you may be able to offer.
In order to put ourselves in the strongest possible financial position at auction we are once again accepting donations and loans for the purpose of backing our auction bid along with our major backer.
Some of you have already kindly backed us via our seed loan fund , but we would welcome further help form anyone who hasn’t yet committed. If you think they may have interested friends or family then please pass this on.
So how can you help?
We are inviting loans, which initially will be held under a local finance agreement between yourselves and Cymdeithas Trecadwgan, which is a Community Benefit Society regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
These loans will be committed for a minimum of 1 year from the date of completion of a purchase of the Farm and so far we have commitments of between £1,000 and £50,000 over terms of between one and five years.
These loans will initially attract no interest, but there may be a future chance to convert all or part to either shares or interest paying bonds for those willing to commit for further time.
If you think you can help then please do get in touch urgently for further details.