More than three-quarters of the Welsh countryside has some environmental or conservation designation, highlighting the important role farming continues to play in maintaining our natural resources.

Showcasing exactly how food production and environmental conservation go hand in hand were Farmers’ Union of Wales Merioneth tenant farmers Geraint and Rachael Davies, who are the third generation of farmers to tend the land at Fedw Arian Uchaf, Rhyduchaf, Y Bala.

The couple opened the gates to their home farm, inviting visitors, including cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths AM, to see the land and stock, the various elements of the Glastir scheme, with particular emphasis on the capital works and management options that are part of the scheme, as well as capital works which were part of the Tir Eryri scheme and administered by Snowdonia National Park.

An organic farm since 2005, it has been in the Glastir Entry scheme since 2013 and in the Advanced scheme since 2014.

The land, which lies approximately 900 feet above sea level, with much of it reaching up to 2,200 feet, extends to 1200 acres, being mostly mountain land with approximately 200 acres of lower land, of which 70 acres is being kept to produce silage every year.

Here Geraint and Rachael keep 1,000 Welsh mountain ewes and a Welsh mountain ram, which is turned out to the majority, while approximately 300 ewes are crossed with an Innovis Aberfield ram.

There is also a commercial herd of 40 suckler cows, the majority of which are Welsh black pedigree and are crossed with a Limousin bull. The calves are sold as stores between eight-15 months to private buyers. Most of the lambs are sold at Bala and Rhuthun livestock markets.

To ensure a thriving wildlife and rare bird population, whilst also producing red meat at Fedw Arian – which includes a site of Special Scientific Interest – Geraint and Rachael work closely with FWAG Cymru, the RSPB Cymru and Natural Resources Wales.

Rachael Davies, a qualified barrister who as well as helping to run the farm works as a subcontractor with Kite Consulting and has recently been appointed to the board of Hybu Cig Cymru, said: “We are clear that food can be produced whilst maintaining and conserving the natural environment, they are not mutually exclusive. We can demonstrate, here at Fedw Arian, that farming with the environment can aid the farming process.”

Geraint, who is the FUW’s county chairman in Merioneth, shares his wife’s beliefs that farmers have an important role to play when it comes to maintaining the countryside and that both, food production and environmental conservation, can and must go hand in hand.

He said: “We have been working with a range of environmental bodies over the years, such as FWAG Cymru, and been involved in many environmental schemes. However, we are also food producers. It is really important that there is a good balance between the two. You can’t have one without the other.”

Tegwyn Jones, FUW Meirionnydd county president, said: “I would like to thank Geraint and Rachael for welcoming us all to their farm and showing us what can be achieved if food production and agri-environmental schemes work together. As a family unit they do an amazing job.”