A farm shop and kitchen in the heart of Ceredigion has been presented with a national rural business award. The Moody Cow Farm Shop and Welsh Kitchen, in Aberaeron, has won the Best Rural Diversification Project category at this year’s Rural Business Awards.
The award, proudly sponsored by Fisher German, recognises rural businesses that have gone above and beyond to offer something different to bring in more customers.
The farm shop and kitchen is based within Bargoed Farm, owned by Chris and Geraint Thomas.
The determined couple moved to the derelict farm in 2010 after previously diversifying their cattle farm in the Brecon Beacons but then losing everything due to legal issues.
They completely transformed the site before opening Bargoed Farm Campsite in 2018 and using wooden hot tubs as a unique way to bring in customers.Their popularity has seen them expand this part of the business, with 20 out of their 50 pitches now benefitting from one.
Chris and Geraint, who have five children, then launched The Moody Cow Farm Shop and Welsh Kitchen, serving up a wide range of wholesome Welsh dishes created using local ingredients. While the bistro is currently closed in line with government Covid restrictions, the farm shop, including its butchery and deli counters, remains open.
Chris said that farm diversification is essential when looking to build a successful business in the sector, and now uses social media to provide an honest insight into farm life.
She said: “My husband’s family has been farming in Wales for more than 1,000 years, so it’s a real legacy for us.
“We unfortunately lost our farm in the Brecon Beacons after receiving some poor legal advice. We lost everything and really hit rock bottom, but we had the determination to make things happen.
After moving to Bargoed Farm we built the campsite from the ground up, and as a way to entice people all year round we installed hot tubs which turned out to be a fantastic investment. We then built The Moody Cow, and after not finding the right chefs at the time I stepped into the kitchen.
“I had no prior experience in catering, but it’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done. We now have more kitchen staff and have built up a fantastic customer base of local people as well as those who stay with us on the campsite.
“We use the farm shop and bistro to educate people about agriculture and spend a lot of time researching and sourcing local high-quality food and products.
“We offer a fantastic holiday experience, giving people the chance to see the beautiful Welsh countryside, and we’re truly honoured to be named Best Rural Diversification Project at the Rural Business Awards.
“It is excellent recognition for us and demonstrates that whatever your situation, you can pick yourself up and succeed. We’ve documented, and continue to document, our honest journey on social media to show the reality of farming. So many farmers are struggling, so diversification is absolutely key to running a successful business.
“We’re now in the process of building our new play barn, The Moody Calf, and our new wedding venue to set us apart even more and create other income streams. There’s a lot of exciting times ahead at Bargoed Farm.”
David Merton, head of rural at Fisher German, said: “The Moody Cow Farm Shop and Welsh Kitchen is a fantastic example of diversification within a farm business.
“It not only brings in an extra income stream, but has agriculture at its heart. It is incredible to hear Chris and Geraint’s story of both determination and resilience, and we wish them well with their future developments.”