WALES’S biggest community farm is in financial trouble and may have to be sold after its backers announced they were pulling out.
The 390-acre Ffarm Moelyci, between Bethesda and Bangor, has been owned by the community for 15 years. Initially, it was saved from development by the community and a co-operative, the Moelyci IPS, was formed.
Three years ago, Cwm Harry Land Trust Ltd took on the farm business tenancy and saved the co-operative from having to sell. The trust planned to eventually purchase the farm.
Cwm Harry attracted a number of rural businesses to the site including an award- winning cheese producer, a biomass production enterprise and community pig project.
Moelyci is UK’s first community farm, and champions wildlife and local produce, also includes the Blas Lôn Las cafe and shop, allotments and hosts organisations such as the Snowdonia Donkeys project.
On its website Moelyci IPS Board said: “It is with immense regret that we have to report that Cwm Harry have informed us that they have had to withdraw from the planned purchase of Ffarm Moelyci.
“Due to consideration of new information by both Moelyci IPS and Cwm Harry that has been received by us in the last four weeks, and following a meeting with our bank two days ago, it is no longer possible for our bank to continue giving us the same level of support with no possibility of repayment of our loan in sight and neither can we (Moelyci IPS) service our loan interest (mortgage) repayments.
“We are now in a situation of having to deal with the inevitable outcome of this new reality. It is highly likely that our bank will now insist that we put the whole farm on the market as soon as preparations have been completed so as to repay, if possible, all Moelyci IPS's liabilities.”
Paul Taylor, chair of CHT, said: “Cwm Harry regrets that we will not be purchasing the farm outright and as we announced to the shareholders of Moelyci IPS's AGM (on Thursday, July 13) and is relinquishing its lease this autumn.
“It will be focusing on its existing environmental enterprises elsewhere in Wales and in England. With the farm substantially improved and with a range of enterprising activities on site Moelyci IPS will shortly be looking for a new owner for the farm."
Adam Kennerley, of Cwm Harry, said: “It is now time for a new owner - or a new group of partners - to take up the reigns and reap the rewards that Ffarm Moelyci can offer.
“The difficult decision taken by Cwm Harry to leave is only matched by the difficult decision Moelyci IPS now faces to sell the farm.”
An open meeting of members and friends of Moelyci was held on Friday. A website statement said after that a new “independent initiative” was now being discussed and that a “lot of people have expressed their desire not to give up the fight at this point.”