Wyn Evans’ family business commands breath-taking views over the picturesque St Bride’s Bay in western Pembrokeshire which has helped him secure success across his diverse enterprise.
Wyn, who is a third generation mixed Pembrokeshire farmer, has a diverse family business, Caerfai Farm, comprising dairy and the production of fine organic Welsh cheese, holiday cottages, yurts and a shepherd’s hut, a campsite, and renewable energy production including photovoltaic, solar thermal, heat pump and wind turbine.
“In this situation, many landowners would forget farming, rent out most of the land and concentrate on tourism,” says Wyn. “But because of the way the farm is run, it attracts certain types of people to visit.” The business oozes sustainability. An electric vehicle recharge station is tenderly feeding its infant, as nearby the robotic milker tends a heifer. The understated resourcefulness and common-sense approach of the business is appreciated by visitors.
The business consists of 180 acres – some of it rented – in one unit. “It’s just evolved, really,” Wyn explains. “From my perspective, it’s always been like this - we had caravans here pre-war. I recently found an old sign advertising teas, and my grandparents ran horse and cart rides to Whitesands Beach. Since the 1950s we’ve run the campsite for tents and small campervans.”
This business has instinctively focused on discerning customers who do not want a caravan on the neighbouring pitch and want a good site without frills. “We don’t advertise our campsite grade - we don’t need to. We’ve been organic since the early 1990s. We have just 65 cows on the robotic milker and we still grow Pembrokeshire spuds. It’s truly a holistic business because a mixed farm like this attracts loyal tourist customers.
“A major step was the development of the dairy. We sold raw milk, pasteurised, and made cream, butter, whole, semi and skimmed milk.” In 1996 the family invested in cheese-making facilities from a nearby closing business, from which they also received some training and the first recipes. Today Caerfai produces both a Cheddar and a Caerphilly-type cheese, which it supplies to wholesalers and southwest Wales delis, and for visitors to purchase to eat or as gifts. This is another business that has benefited from online sales.
“Before the 2008 economic downturn, the organic cheese market was most buoyant,” Wyn recalls. “Today we’re making about half the quantity we did then – although our product is even higher quality and the name is more widely known. We’re making about 600 litres. We don’t want to make more than our herd can supply, anyway.”
We’ve many challenges ahead
“Our future depends on bTB (bovine tuberculosis) management and how product origin identity and organic certification standards are managed. This is a family business and we want to continue enjoying it.”
Wyn notes that the changing climate is having a greater impact on the farm business. “Over the century or so the family’s been here, we’ve noticed how our local climate has changed, and there are more storms and they cause considerable damage.”