Abergavenny sheep farmer Bryony Gittins discuss grazing management with her Farming Connect mentor, Ben Anthony who farms in Carmarthenshire.

RETURNING TO HER ROOTS, FARMERS’ DAUGHTER GETS BACK TO BASICS TO DEVELOP FAMILY FARM WITH SUPPORT FROM FARMING CONNECT

Bryony Gittins needed no persuading when she had the opportunity to return to the family farm in Llanthony near Abergavenny, where she grew up helping her parents with the day to day running of the business. In their late teens, she and her siblings had helped their parents to diversify, setting up a successful on-farm riding and trekking enterprise.

Having lived and worked out of the industry for a number of years, in London and more recently in Hay on Wye, where she works as an outdoor pursuits instructor, Bryony is now on a personal mission to bring this family hill farm back to its former glory and earn her livelihood as a full time farmer.

“The farm has been in our family for two generations already, and I didn’t want to see that continuity lost.”

In order to ensure the business reaches its potential again – it includes 276 acres of land within the Brecon Beacons National Park with a further 100 acres rented – Bryony knew she needed to bring her own farming skills and knowledge up to speed, which is when she turned to Farming Connect.

Her parents Colin and Cordelia Passmore have been quietly scaling back their involvement with day to day farming for a number of years.

They gave up the demands of their herd of 60 pedigree Hereford cattle in 2016 to concentrate on what they hoped would be the less labour-intensive mixed flock of Lleyn, Texel and Charollais sheep.

But having decided to reduce the flock size, they found they had a new problem. There was too much grass, which soon became fertile ground for thistles, nettles and bracken.

“Dad advised me to register with Farming Connect, and I soon realised just how much guidance and support is available, most of it either fully funded or heavily subsidised.

“I remember signing up for Farming Connect business courses many years ago, when we first set up the equine venture, and I’m still utilising those skills today, so I didn’t need much convincing.”

What Bryony hadn’t expected, was that these days you can learn a lot from the comfort of your own home if you are registered with Farming Connect. She first discovered the benefits of e-learning when, having completed an online personal development plan (PDP) that identified not only her strengths but also the gaps in her knowledge, she signed up for Farming Connect’s online farm Health & Safety course. This is essential if you plan to apply for practical training and machinery courses.

In order to tackle the issue of poor quality grazing, she then signed up for e-courses on grazing systems and grassland management generally.

“It’s early days, but I am already starting to put into practice what I’ve learnt. The modules emphasise the importance of containing your stock in smaller areas and rotating them to fresh pastures, so we have already started sectioning off by improving all the fencing and gateposts.”

Bryony also applied for one-to-one support through Farming Connect’s mentoring programme. Ben Anthony, an experienced sheep farmer from Carmarthenshire who successfully increased his own flock performance by improving his grazing management through home-grown crops and forage, is now encouraging Bryony to consider some of the systems and species of grass that he has successfully tried and tested.

Bryony and her dad have 500 ewes going to tup this year, with another 150 joining them next year, and she plans to build up stock numbers in a steady programme of expansion.

“I find Farming Connect open days immensely valuable, and in addition to seeing what works well for other farmers, I’ve learnt so much on topics ranging from worm resistance in sheep through to grazing management,” says Bryony. She also recently obtained her PA1 and PA6 pesticides certificates, funded through a Farming Connect training course.

Her parents wound down the riding enterprise some years ago, but Bryony is already talking about the future and the opportunities for a new stream of income.

“Get the farmland and stock performing at their best again and then who knows what will follow!”

For further information on skills and mentoring, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect

Abergavenny sheep farmer Bryony Gittins finds Farming Connect’s e-learning modules a speedy, easy way to learn about topics ranging from grazing management and identifying farmland trees to financial recording and VAT.

DYCHWELYD AT EI GWREIDDIAU, MERCH FFERM YN MYND YN L I DDATBLYGU FFERM DEULUOL GYDA CHEFNOGAETH CYSWLLT FFERMIO

Doedd dim darbwyllo Bryony Gittins pan gafodd y cyfle i ddychwelyd i’r fferm deuluol yn Llanddewi Nant Hodni ger y Fenni, lle magwyd hi, i helpu ei rhieni i redeg y fferm o ddydd i ddydd. Yn ei harddegau hwyr roedd hi a’i brodyr a’i chwiorydd wedi helpu ei rhieni i arallgyfeirio, gan sefydlu menter farchogaeth a merlota lwyddiannus ar y fferm.

A hithau wedi byw a gweithio y tu allan i’r diwydiant ers nifer o flynyddoedd, yn Llundain ac yn fwy diweddar yn y Gelli Gandryll, lle bu’n gweithio fel hyfforddwraig campau awyr agored, mae Bryony yn awr ar ymgyrch bersonol i ddwyn y fferm deuluol yn l i’w gogoniant ac ennill ei bywoliaeth fel ffarmwraig lawn amser.

“Mae’r fferm wedi bod yn ein teulu ni ers dwy genhedlaeth yn barod, ac nid oeddwn am weld yr olyniaeth yn dod i ben.”

Er mwyn sicrhau bod y busnes yn cyflawni ei botensial eto – mae’n cynnwys 276 erw o dir ym Mharc Cenedlaethol Bannau Brycheiniog gyda 100 erw arall ar rent – gwyddai Bryony bod rhaid iddi adnewyddu ei sgiliau ffermio a’i gwybodaeth, a dyna pryd y gwnaeth droi at Cyswllt Ffermio.

Mae ei rhieni Colin a Cordelia Passmore wedi bod yn graddol lacio eu gafael ar y ffermio o ddydd i ddydd ers nifer o flynyddoedd. Yn 2016 roeddent wedi rhoi eu buches o 60 o wartheg Henffordd pedigri i fyny i ganolbwyntio ar eu diadell gymysg o ddefaid Lleyn, Texel a Charollais, yr oeddent yn gobeithio fyddai’n llai trwm o ran gwaith.

Ond ar l penderfynu lleihau maint y ddiadell, fe wnaethant weld bod ganddynt broblem newydd. Roedd gormod o laswellt, a aeth yn fuan yn dir ffrwythlon i ysgall, danadl poethion a rhedyn.

“Fe wnaeth Dad fy nghynghori i gofrestru gyda Cyswllt Ffermio, ac yn fuan fe welais gymaint o arweiniad a chefnogaeth sydd ar gael, y rhan fwyaf ohono wedi ei ariannu’n llawn neu gyda chymhorthdal sylweddol.

“Dwi’n cofio ymuno chyrsiau busnes Cyswllt Ffermio flynyddoedd yn l, pan wnaethom sefydlu’r fenter ferlota gyntaf, ac rwyf yn dal i ddefnyddio’r sgiliau hynny heddiw, felly doedd dim llawer o waith darbwyllo arnaf.”

Yr hyn nad oedd Bryony yn ei ddisgwyl, oedd y gallwch chi ddysgu llawer o gysur eich cartref eich hun y dyddiau hyn os ydych wedi cofrestru gyda Cyswllt Ffermio. Gwelodd fanteision e-ddysgu am y tro cyntaf wedi iddi gwblhau cynllun datblygu personol ar-lein (PDP) a ddynododd ei chryfderau ond hefyd y bylchau yn ei gwybodaeth, ymunodd chwrs Iechyd a Diogelwch fferm ar-lein gan Cyswllt Ffermio. Mae hyn yn hanfodol os ydych yn bwriadu ymgeisio am hyfforddiant ymarferol a chyrsiau peiriannau.

Er mwyn taclo mater y borfa wael ei hansawdd, fe wnaeth wedyn ymuno ag e-gyrsiau ar systemau pori a rheolaeth glaswelltir yn gyffredinol.

“Mae’n ddyddiau cynnar, ond rwyf eisoes wedi dechrau defnyddio’r hyn yr wyf wedi ei ddysgu. Mae’r modiwlau yn pwysleisio pwysigrwydd cynnwys eich stoc mewn ardaloedd llai a’u cylchdroi i borfa ffres, felly rydym eisoes wedi dechrau eu torri’n llai trwy wella’r holl ffensys a’r pyst giatiau.”

Ymgeisiodd Bryony hefyd am gefnogaeth un i un trwy raglen fentora Cyswllt Ffermio. Mae Ben Anthony, ffermwr defaid profiadol o Sir Gaerfyrddin, a lwyddodd i wella perfformiad ei ddiadell ei hun trwy wella’r rheolaeth ar borfa wrth ddefnyddio cnydau a phorthiant wedi eu tyfu gartref, yn awr yn annog Bryony i ystyried rhai o’r systemau a’r rhywogaethau o laswellt y mae ef wedi eu profi ei hun.

Mae gan Bryony a’i thad 500 o famogiaid yn mynd at yr hwrdd eleni, gyda 150 yn ymuno nhw’r flwyddyn nesaf, ac mae’n bwriadu cynyddu niferoedd y stoc mewn rhaglen ehangu gyson.

“Rwyf yn gweld dyddiau agored Cyswllt Ffermio yn ddefnyddiol dros ben, ac yn ychwanegol at weld beth sy’n gweithio orau i ffermwyr eraill, rwyf wedi dysgu cymaint hefyd am bynciau yn amrywio o ymwrthedd i driniaeth llyngyr mewn defaid hyd at reoli porfa,”

dywedodd Bryony. Yn ddiweddar llwyddodd i gael ei thystysgrifau PA1 a

PA6 plaleiddiaid, a gyllidwyd trwy gwrs hyfforddi Cyswllt Ffermio.

Daeth y fenter farchogaeth i ben rai blynyddoedd yn l, ond mae Bryony eisoes yn sn am y dyfodol a’r cyfleoedd am ffrwd incwm newydd.

“Os cawn ni’r tir a’r stoc yn perfformio ar eu gorau eto does wybod beth ddaw wedyn!”

Am ragor o wybodaeth am sgiliau a mentora, ewch i www.llyw.cymru/cyswlltffermio

 

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