Our Great Orme farmer arrives on 'dream' farm

Dan Jones and his sheepdogs on the Great Orme
Published : 08 Nov 2016 Last update : 07 Nov 2016

Farmer Dan Jones and his young family have now moved in to their ‘dream farm’. The £1 million sheep farm, Parc Farm, is located on the Great Orme, North Wales.

New farmer

Dan, 38, from Anglesey, is renting the 145-acre coastal farm for just £1 a year.  

His appointment follows our global search for a farmer to look after Parc Farm. 

An experienced sheep farmer, Dan will work closely with the us and the wild plant conservation charity Plantlife. His role is to uphold the tradition of hill farming in this area while helping protect the Great Orme’s globally rare habitats and species.  

Farmer Dan Jones with sheepdogs Nel and Tian
Farmer Dan Jones with his sheepdogs
Farmer Dan Jones with sheepdogs Nel and Tian

Some of these species, like the Great Orme Berry, are found nowhere else on earth.

Dan is joined on the farm by his wife Ceri, 39, son Efan, 8. There are also four sheepdogs and a flock of 295 Lleyn and Herdwick sheep which he aims to grow to 400. The sheep will be farmed primarily for meat, but also for their wool. 

The family has moved into a newly restored farmhouse overlooking the Irish Sea – a 200 metre commute to the farmyard.  

In addition to the 59 hectares (145 acres) of farmland, Dan’s flock will also graze the neighbouring 291 hectares (720 acres) of coastal headland.

They have a tricky task ahead due to the specific grazing regime required. The sheep have to graze this way to ensure that thee landscape’s rare habitats and species are not lost forever.

Sheep on the Great Orme
Sheep on the Great Orme
Sheep on the Great Orme

Farming: 'good for nature'

Dan said: ‘Despite the challenges I am really looking forward to managing the land in a way that is good for the land, good for nature, good for visitors, and productive.’

The difficulty in shepherding large flocks on such a large open headland so popular with visitors and walkers has meant that grazing over the past decade has been intensive and limited to the more fertile and protected fields within Parc Farm itself. 

‘Because grazing the wider headland has been a challenge, nature has suffered and we want to reverse that trend,’ Dan continued. 

‘While I was shepherding on the slopes of Snowdon I saw first-hand how close, conservation shepherding can make a real difference for nature and ensure a landscape becomes even more beautiful and rich in wildlife.

'The farm is in a stunning location which attracts over 600,000 visitors each year and we’ll be able to show people how we’re farming sustainably to protect this landscape forever.’

" While I was shepherding on the slopes of Snowdon I saw first-hand how close, conservation shepherding can make a real difference for nature and ensure a landscape becomes even more beautiful and rich in wildlife. "
- Dan Jones, Farmer, Parc Farm

Helping rare plants

The Great Orme is one of the top five places for rare plants in the UK and has been identified as an Important Plant Area by Plantlife. The wild plant conservation charity has purchased Dan’s flock of native-breed Lleyn and Herdwick sheep.  

Careful grazing on the farm and coastal headland will help protect rare plants like spiked speedwell, which is only found at a handful of sites in the UK. 

Spiked Speedwell
Spiked Speedwell
Spiked Speedwell

Dr Trevor Dines, botanical specialist at Plantlife, said: ‘Over the last 30 years I’ve seen dramatic changes, with fewer flowers and more grass.

‘Years of undergrazing on the coastal edge mean many flowers have disappeared under a thick blanket of rough grass.  

‘It will be so exciting to see our flock of sheep – and their 13,000 teeth - getting to work, opening up the turf and creating conditions for these plants to thrive again.’

" Years of undergrazing on the coastal edge mean many flowers have disappeared under a thick blanket of rough grass. "
- Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist, Plantlife

Working with farmers

This project is one example of how we’re developing sustainable and productive forms of farming and to reverse the UK’s alarming decline in wildlife – 60 per cent in the past 50 years. 

Together with farmers we’re finding long term solutions to nurse the countryside back to health. 

William Greenwood, our general manager in north Wales said: ‘We’re looking forward to working with Dan – proving that, on this striking coastal headland, farming and wildlife conservation go hand in hand.’

" We’re looking forward to working with Dan – proving that, on this striking coastal headland, farming and wildlife conservation go hand in hand."
- William Greenwood, National Trust General Manager