Providing information on organic food and farming in Wales
Our Organic Dairy Champion is Charlie Wood
Our Organic Dairy Champion is Charlie Wood, who together with his wife Christine runs Rhiwbren Fawr Farm in Oakford, near Llanarth, along with (part time) support from their two sons Rowan and Bert. Members of the well-known Calon Wen farming co-operative since the start of the millennium, Charlie and Christine have seen a lot of changes in the organic sector over the last decade.
Charlie and Christine met at Seale Hayne Agricultural College in Devon and have been farming together ever since. Charlie converted to organic status in the late 1990s, after extending his dairy farm from 150 acres to 215, ensuring that all his animals graze fresh pasture and eat a natural diet of grass and forage crops; such as peas and barley and limiting the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides.
With a 60 strong herd of Shorthorns, Meuse Rhine Issel and Montbeliarde cows, the farm produces up to 300,000 litres of milk per year, which is collected and taken to local processors in Aberystwyth, to become Rachel's yogurts and also to Whitland in order to be bottled as Calon Wen milk, which is then sold in supermarkets across Wales. “It is very important to us that the milk we produce is sold locally as it improves the quality of the product for our customers and also benefits the environment by reducing our carbon footprint”
By using a rotational grazing system, Charlie's cows get to move across their grazing area on a 21-28 day cycle, which means they get to eat fresh pasture and the land and wildlife are able to remain healthy, naturally, without the use of intensive artificial inputs.
“We have always been interested in farming organically and the extra land allowed us to use an extensive system, which uses natural land management techniques for the benefit of our animals, wildlife and the environment,” explains Charlie.
“It is fantastic to see wildlife thrive on the farm, especially bees, which love our white clover and live in hives we have on the farm on behalf of New Quay Honey farm. I really feel that converting to organic is the best thing we ever did. We really enjoy this way of farming, our cows are happy and the biodiversity on our land has continued to increase every year.
“After quite possibly the wettest summer we have ever seen in Wales (2012), we are very relieved to see some sun as we get into 2013. It is great to see the animals out on the pasture enjoying the warm weather; it lifts their mood just as much as ours!
“We also love working as part of a co-operative of like-minded farmers; we feel part of a family who share our values of excellent animal welfare, whilst caring for the land and environment”.
Meet the the other champions!
Organic Centre Wales, IBERS, Gogerddan Campus
Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, SY23 3EB
T:01970 622248 E: email@example.com