“Environmental sustainability is not only important to us personally, but our clients are clearly concerned about these issues too, and have welcomed the changes made to the site”. (Geraint Thomas).
According to Trip Advisor Bargoed Farm Caravan and Camping site is a “Beautiful family-owned caravan park set in the heart of Cardigan Bay, West Wales, situated right between the picturesque coastal towns of Aberaeron and New Quay in a stunning, tranquil setting”. It is much more than that. As one satisfied visitor put it “Yet another great weekend here…such a beautiful site with exceptionally clean facilities. We booked the hot tub pitch and was not disappointed. Ate in the bistro on Saturday evening and the food and service were excellent. We were celebrating a birthday and all staff made sure our celebrations were spot on”. But that is not all.
The enterprise was launched by Geraint and Christine Thomas on an 80-acre farm site in 2016 when, through no fault of their own, they had to sell their Brecon home and previous business and start afresh. In 2000, they bought a farm near Brecon, renovated the 28-room property, converted the farm from pig to cattle farming, and then diversified into farm tourism. Having to close the business and sell up was a major trauma for the family. Apart from losing millions of pounds sterling Geraint’s ancestors had farmed the area for over 1000 years. However, the greatest challenge was having to start again. As Chris says the local community was welcoming and friendly but she and Geraint were almost 60 years old and “rebuilding your lives, borrowing money, getting planning approval, thinking that you have to rebuild from scratch at that time in life is hard”.
However, the local council believed in and supported, them and with funding from the Development Bank of Wales, they started to rebuild their lives and opened the caravan park at Easter 2017. By the Spring of 2021, they had planted 15,000 trees and constructed “The Moody Cow Shop and Bistro”, 50 hard surface caravan pitches 20 with hot tubs (to encourage year-round tourism), a new shower, and toilet block and extra solar panels. The shop sells British produce and crafts while the bistro serves locally sourced quality Welsh food and drink. In August 2021 they added a children’s soft play barn (the “Moody Calf”) and in January 2022 a wedding, function, and meeting venue (Ysgubor). “It is our greatest wish,” says Chris, “that these fulfill their potential to serve our community”.
All of the design, building work, and materials are locally sourced are the 50 employees set to double to 100 when the second phase of the development is complete. “It’s the whole team that makes it a success”, says Chris who is “proud that we continue to create employment for all generations in the locality – the youngsters are the lifeblood of the country and often feel they have to leave the area in pursuit of well-paid secure jobs”. While Chris is proud of their “wonderful team”, Sarah Johnson, Relationship Manager for Wales at Triodos Bank UK, has been impressed by their pursuit of sustainability. When commenting on the Bank’s funding of the project in November 2022 she said “Bargoed Farm is an ideal fit with our mission, and we’re delighted to support its efforts to achieve net zero and to expand the business further”. The funding will help finance the conversion of farm outbuildings into quality self-contained holiday accommodation and enable the farm to source and store the majority of its power from its own renewable energy source, enabling it to go off-grid and become net zero. When not managing the business Chris can often be found in a polytunnel cultivating plants and flowers for use as wedding flowers and for landscaping the grounds.
Bargoed Farm caravan and camping site is not just a farm or a caravan and camping site, it is a family business and a typical example of the vision, self-belief, and determination of the entrepreneur. “We knew we could do it and we did,” says Chris. However, it is even more than that – it is a Harmonious Venture and Community Enterprise in which profit, planet, and people are in harmony with each other. It addresses SDGs 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 15 (Life on Land).
James, E. (2022). Rural holiday park boosts renewable energy supply. Triodos Bank Press Release.
Jones, R. (Undated). Bargoed Farm. Development Bank of Wales Case Study.
Lewis, M. (2022). Ceredigion holiday park’s mission to boost renewable energy.Tivy-Side Advertiser. 17th November.
Ridout, J. (2021). Planning row cost family their luxury home and almost one of their lives – now they’ve rebuilt even stronger. WalesOnline. 16th May.
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