Five years ago a community wanted to stop developers from building on a farm, so they literally bought the farm. The Guardian takes a look at this successful non-profit farm run by the local community.
This is no ordinary Welsh mountain farm – and yet, until five years ago, that is exactly what it was. In 2003, intensively grazed and in the aftermath of the foot and mouth outbreak, its 320 acres were unable to support the farming tenant. But when the estate owner decided the farm should be sold – possibly for holiday accommodation – the local community had different ideas. Residents from Tregarth, Rhiwlas and Mynydd Llandegai, the three villages that surround Moelyci, in the shadow of Snowdon, dug deep and bought it.
Around 200 people invested in the farm, forming a not-for-profit industrial and provident society (IPS), with the help of loans from Triodos Bank and ICOF, a community development finance institution that invests in areas of deprivation. It was the first venture of its kind in Wales and one of just a handful in the UK.
Five years on, Moelyci IPS supports around 16 jobs and has 500 community shareholders. The original loans have been replaced by a mortgage, and when that is paid off, in 18 years’ time, the farm and its mountain – much of which is now designated a site of special scientific interest and a special area of conservation – will really be theirs.