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Growing a business
In 2010, husband-and-wife team Geraint and Christine Thomas bought a derelict farm site in Ceredigion. Following a number of diversification and expansion projects, Bargoed Farm is now a substantial tourism operation as well as a working farm, with environmental sustainability deeply integrated into its business strategy.
Here’s how finance from the Development Bank of Wales has supported Bargoed Farm on its journey to becoming a successful, sustainable company.
Diversifying into tourism
Geraint and Christine both come from agricultural backgrounds and have years of experience in farming, so they were acutely aware of the pressures facing the industry and recognised the need for diversification.
With Bargoed Farm being located in the heart of the tourist area in Ceredigion, the couple saw its potential for generating alternative income streams. After buying the site, they renovated the farmhouse, brought the land back to prime condition, and obtained planning permission.
In 2016, they secured a £50,000 micro loan from the Development Bank of Wales to support their diversification project, which included the development of a large camping and caravan site along with a farm shop and bistro. As a way of attracting visitors all year round, they installed private hot tubs across a selection of pitches, which have proven to be in high demand.
Bargoed Farm has since secured two follow-on loans. The first of these was used to improve the infrastructure of the site, including resurfacing the car park, roads, and walkways in order to improve accessibility and overall appearance.
The second supported the company’s biggest project to date. Bargoed Farm used the £300,000 loan alongside grant funding to finance the construction and completion of a new building, which houses a children’s play barn and a lakeside events venue, accommodating up to 200 people.
Keith Jones, Finance Director at Bargoed Farm, said: “Dealing with the Development Bank was extremely straightforward, and they immediately got in tune with our needs. Brexit changed the landscape of European grant funding, meaning we had to secure the finance package and deliver the investment within a tight deadline. The Development Bank understood the urgency and provided the loan we needed alongside the grant to launch our new venture.”
Geraint said: “Diversifying is key to building a successful business in this industry. We now have a wide offering and provide a great experience for visitors, while continuing to be a working family farm. The Development Bank has believed in us from the beginning, and their continued support over the years has enabled us to go from strength to strength.”
Since the original investment, Bargoed Farm has established an excellent reputation, receiving many accolades such as the 2021 Rural Business Award for Best Rural Diversification Project, and has become a significant local employer.
Making sustainability a priority
Geraint and Christine have ensured that all developments at the farm have been in line with their wider green agenda. For example, the development of the events building gave them an opportunity to install solar panels, and the resurfacing of the car park provided the opportunity to install electric vehicle charging points.
Given the rural setting of the farm, the charging points have been welcomed by visitors. The business has also installed two generators that operate on biofuel, which are easily adaptable as and when newer, cleaner fuel options become available. It has also switched to three electric vehicles on site, two of which are light duty to ferry visitors and supplies, and one that is heavy duty to move caravans.
In addition to these measures, the business has invested in a baling machine. All recyclable materials are baled by the new machine, which compresses the materials and minimises their volume. This saves on storage space and reduces the frequency of waste collections, resulting in lower waste removal costs and a smaller carbon footprint.
Bargoed Farm has further plans to invest in battery storage and aims to be carbon neutral by the end of 2022.
Geraint said: “The changes we’ve introduced have made the business more resilient to unstable energy prices and have already saved us a significant amount of money. 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.”
Supporting businesses to become more sustainable
At the Development Bank of Wales, we’re committed to addressing the climate change emergency and supporting the Welsh Government’s net-zero strategy.
Our finance can help businesses in Wales invest in becoming more sustainable and support their transition to becoming carbon neutral. We can also provide loans and equity for companies developing and providing innovative green products and services in Wales.
Support and links
We support our customers to improve and reduce their environmental impact by working closely with Business Wales. Their specialist sustainability advisers offer support on grants, renewable energy, environmental sustainability, and the Green Growth Pledge.