Gareth Jones, the Rhug Estate’s Farm Manager, is celebrating a significant work anniversary today having been employed by the Rhug Estate for 25 years.
A lot of changes have taken place during Gareth’s time at the Rhug. When he started in 1993 the then Lord Newborough was farming conventionally. They had 3,000 sheep and 60 acres of barley. The system was low input and low output and Gareth was one of the Rhug Estate’s nine staff.
Gareth said, “The years have flown by. My job title is the same as when I started 25 years ago but my job is nothing like when I started. Both farming policies and the Rhug have had some interesting changes over the years and are constantly evolving to keep me on my toes. I still enjoy coming to work every day and work with a great team of staff.”
It was in 1998 that the current Lord Newborough took over the Estate from his late father and decided to farm the land organically. Gareth managed that transition which was a two year conversion period. Around this time, they also started finishing store cattle on the farm and eventually started producing Aberdeen Angus beef. Their main customer was Waitrose supermarket in those days – still a loyal customer today.
In 2002 Lord Newborough opened two vans on the side of the A5 – one selling the meat produced on the farm by Gareth and the team and the other selling burgers made from the meat produced on the farm.
Today the Farm Shop is one of the biggest in Wales and offers a Bistro and Takeaway service for customers with all the meat supplied to all three of these businesses from the Rhug’s own farm, managed by Gareth. The total number of staff on the Estate today is 116 with nine of them working on the farm.
Lord Newborough, with Gareth’s assistance, introduced turkeys and geese produced for the Christmas market in the early 2000s, then introduced chickens to the farm. A small herd of Bison were bought in 2006 and this year a small herd of Sika Deer were introduced to the farm.
From an early age Gareth knew he wanted to work in agriculture, but he was the son of an accountant so there was no farm for him to inherit or learn the ropes. After leaving school he worked on a dairy farm for a year before attending Aberystwyth College where he gained a HND in Agriculture. Whilst studying he did a sandwich year on a beef and sheep farm in Brecon, where he met his future wife, Fran (his boss’s daughter!).
After qualifying from Aberystwyth College, Gareth went to farm in New Zealand for seven months he then had a couple of jobs managing farms in mid and south east Wales. He also worked for MLC for two years as a beef specialist before taking the position with the Rhug with his then wife and two young children – Catrin, now 28 and Huw, 26.
Gareth did a HCC Scholarship in 2000 in New Zealand. He was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Agricultural Societies (FRAgS) in 2010. He chaired the CARAS (Council for Awards of the Royal Agricultural Societies) Wales Panel between 2016 and 2018. For the past eight years he has chaired the Welsh region of the Moredun Foundation and has also been Chairman of the Regional Chairs Committee for the past four years.
Lord Newborough, Owner of the Rhug Estate, said, “Gareth and I have worked together for so many years now I know when I suggest a new direction for the farm nothing phases him. Congratulations Gareth on reaching this milestone, but I hope there will be many more years of us working together still in the future.
“Thank you Gareth for all your loyalty and support to me and your total dedication to Rhug over the last 25 years. The respect and admiration from everyone who surrounds you has no boundaries and your achievements surpass any gratitude I can summon up to mention, other than to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so grateful for everything you have done over those years.”
Gareth is pictured with Adam Henson when Countryfile came to farm during lambing time earlier this year.