Clynfyw Care Farm and Learning Centre is a Community Interest Company based in Boncath, Pembrokeshire. The Care Farm is a place for people to come who are excluded from society in some way. It offers day service provision for people with learning difficulties and other vulnerable groups. Visitors work on projects through to the end whilst learning new skills, with a positive outcome. The farm is used and run by people who are staying in the cottages and also local people who are coming in on a daily basis. As a part of their support, they provide transportation for participants from local areas, including Lampeter and Haverfordwest. The group at Clynfyw Care Farm were keen to do something to reduce their carbon footprint but didn’t know what they could do.
“Everybody’s got a purpose and a right to be part of their community, people should choose where they want to be and what they want to do.”
In 2014 Daniel Blackburn, a Renew Coordinator met with Clynfyw Care Farm. Daniel did a scoping exercise of the premises and the organisation, to see what types of projects the group would be interested in pursuing. They identified an existing hydro generator and together developed an Action Plan around transforming this to produce useable electricity. With extensive knowledge of hydro generators, Chris Blake a Renew Mentor was tasked with evaluating whether this option was viable. Daniel and the group assisted Chris’ report by gathering the data onsite. Chris’ analysis revealed that the hydro resource was only marginal for this site.
As a result, the group decided not to pursue this route and instead look at the options of a wind energy project. Dan McCallum acted as the Peer Mentor and not only did he provide advice on wind energy but also energy efficiency for the facilities of the Care Farm and other cross fertilisation advice. The Mentor produced a comprehensive report that the group took on to Ynni’r Fro who provided them with additional support to pursue establishing a community wind project. Unfortunately, it was decided there was not enough wind to make this a viable option also.
The cross-fertilisation advice was to encourage the Care Farm to establish contact with Greenstream Flooring, which is a local community interest company that recycles waste carpets into reusable carpet tiles. Clynfyw are now the agents for Greenstream Flooring in their region; Clynfyw started to work with a local housing association that have 1,600 properties within 30 miles of the Care Farm and began to supply them with the Greenstream Flooring recycled carpet tiles for their properties in 2015. The tiles are in good condition, easy to fit and do not need underlay like normal carpet. This is a great example of a circular economy where waste products are turned into something valuable. Clynfyw collected around 20 pallets of carpet tiles and helped re-carpet a small number of premises, but the project did not grow as the battle to get the housing associations on board was too great. At present this project is in remission, ready to be revitalised if/when the appropriate time comes.
At this point Jim Bowen from Clynfyw Care Farm signed up as a Renew Peer Mentor and is still an active Mentor today. Jim shares his farming experience and knowledge of setting up and running a social enterprise with others through Renew. In November 2015, Jim supported the Ecoshop in Cardigan to help: ‘Make the Eco-shop more appealing, reach more people, improve publicity and look for new funding streams.’ Jim took a sensitive, investigatory approach to gather as much information about the shop as possible, (he even created an anonymous online survey!) before making suggestions to the group. The long-term outcome has seen many changes in the Ecoshop’s systems, policies and procedures, giving them more security and stability for the long term. With 20 years experience of setting up and running a care farm and CIC, Jim wrote a book: ‘Care Farming for Beginners’ –a handbook for anyone interested in setting up a similar venture.
Back at Clynfyw Care Farm, early 2018, the group still felt they could do more to reduce their carbon footprint and met with Jane O’Brien, a Renew Coordinator. They saw potential to pilot an electric car, which would replace their combustion engine car for the return journey to Lampeter (a 60-mile trip). The use of an electric car will reduce Clynfyw’s carbon footprint and save on fuel costs. Clynfyw with its large network of contacts within the local community and beyond will also promote the use of alternative electric vehicles. Neil Lewis a Renew Mentor who is passionate about electric vehicles, assisted the group firstly to look at finding the most relevant electric vehicle and secondly to look at installing a charging point for the vehicle, which will rapidly reduce charging time.
“We have completed this stage of the project by buying the electric vehicle—a Nissan Leaf—which is ideal for our needs. We look forward to using it over the next years, analysing the data and hopefully purchasing additional similar vehicles in due course.
We already have 17 solar panels and we are researching the viability of installing more to further reduce our bills and to make the farm more environmentally sustainable. But this is just at the discussion phase at the moment.”
Visit Clynfyw’s website for more information.
All photos taken from the farm.