Tractor technician Gwern is settling down - and helping keep the rural economy alive

Gwern Williams’ days as a Massey Ferguson engineer, working for many years throughout Europe, South Africa and the Middle East are over. Now he, his wife and two young children are running their own farm, Nantygwyrddail, Islawrdref , near Dolgellau, on a 15 year tenancy with the National Trust, which they took over in October 2017.

But Gwern hasn’t finished with tractors just yet. As well as managing the typical 350 acre Meirionnydd hill farm,  250 of which is mountain land, Gwern runs his own business repairing tractors and machinery to supplement income. 

“There are only about 20 acres of the farm where it is possible to harvest silage,” said Gwern.

“It’s just one of the particular challenges facing this type of farm, with limited land available to keep cattle over winter.”

At present they keep a flock of 130 Welsh mountain ewes, and 10 suckler cows, but hope to gradually increase the stocking in future.

The local FUW branch used the opportunity to show Dafydd Elis Thomas AM the importance of family farms like these and to discuss other matters such as open access to the countryside. 

After the farm tour, FUW Meirionnydd County Executive Officer Huw Jones said: “This farm is a great example of the good work our young people are doing and highlights once again the importance of keeping our farming families on the land.

“Gwern and his family, through the farm business, contribute to the local rural economy, to the social and cultural life of Wales, and it is typical of the holdings which must be protected from the potential negative impacts of Brexit.” 

Gwern and wife Ceri, who is a pharmacist, also joined the Glastir agri-environmental scheme in January this year, and hope to make a positive contribution to the environment.

“The scheme will greatly benefit the farm with the capital works scheduled in the coming years, and we hope that this way the farm can contribute to the environment and countryside even more,” Gwern said.