One year on the Great Orme for the National Trust farmer

Reporter:

Allan George

It’s been a year since the National Trust Wales’ newest tenant farmer, Dan Jones, took over Parc Farm on the Great Orme.

Dan, an experienced Anglesey sheep farmer, saw off hundreds of candidates from far afield as Italy and America to secure the tenancy.

With his four dogs he has  brought back the tradition of hill farming to the farm with old-style shepherding. The tenancy was advertised for rent of £1 per year, in a campaign to attract the right farmer for this unusual job.

In addition to managing his 400 strong flock, which helps with conservation by grazing the limestone headland, working with National Trust rangers and volunteers, and getting to know the community.

He made headlines in July when his dog Tian was butted over a cliff into the sea by a disgruntled ewe. After being rescued by an abseiler, Tian was none the worse for wear.

Parc Farm is a habitat for rare wildlife, and in need of special care. The Great Orme is recognised internationally as an important plant area and is home to 360 species of native wildflowers, of which nearly 20 are rare and threatened, including the Great Orme Berry that occurs nowhere else in the world.

There’s also an abundance of rare lichens and mosses which support a host of wildlife, such as a subspecies of silver-studded blue and grayling butterflies, and birds such as chough.

This habitat has been at risk since the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001, when the grazing of sheep declined. As a result, parts of the landscape have become dominated by thick grasses and shrubs, such as invasive and non-native cotoneaster, threatening many of the Orme’s flora.

In addition to farming Dan has been working alongside the trust’s ranger and volunteers to open new paths through the farm, for walkers; engaging with tourists and local people plus school children, church groups and others, and taking part in media interviews.

Dan, his wife Ceri and young son, have said they are settled and loving life in their special new home, and are looking forward to what the next 12 months brings.

Email:

allan.george@nwn.co.uk

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