DESPITE worries about a ‘no deal or bad deal’ Brexit for both householders and businesses alike, homes throughout Cardiff have been gearing up to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with top quality Welsh produce from farms situated in the pasture-rich foothills of the Cambrian Mountains.

It’s good news for many Welsh livestock farmers concerned about the long-term sustainability of their businesses.   It is also very good news for one ambitious Welsh butcher in particular!

Shoppers in Canton, a fashionable suburb of Cardiff, have been spoiled for choice this festive season thanks to the pioneering approach of farmer and butcher Shaun Hall Jones and his shop, Oriel Jones – Farmer & Butcher.

Set up in November 2017 by Shaun, a dynamic and energetic young businessman, this burgeoning butchery business is going from strength to strength. With plans to open shop number two in Pontcanna in the new year, business is clearly booming for this young entrepreneur.

Shaun says that being selected as a candidate for the first-ever Farming Connect Agri Academy programme in 2012 spurred him on to aim high in life!

Shaun left his career as a primary school teacher in 2011. He had decided to return to his roots and help his father Barrie develop Llygadenwen, a 364-hectare farm situated on the outskirts of Llanybydder, the Carmarthenshire village where they now keep more than 600 Abermax ewes and 40 Welsh Black cattle.

This fourth-generation farmer and butcher, who is today a prominent spokesman on the agriculture industry and a ‘Farming Focus’ writer on farm livestock for top industry magazine Farmers Weekly, not only has a passion and love of good food, but he also has a family tradition to live up to.

His grandfather Oriel Jones, dad Barrie and a few great uncles along the way, have collectively been in the butchery businesses for almost a century! Shaun is determined to live up to their reputation for supplying all customers with exceptional Welsh produce.

Much of the meat Shaun sells is from stock sourced and reared from either his family’s own or partner farms in South West Wales, where the best possible animal welfare standards and caring for the environment are order of the day.

Traditional farming methods are paired with the latest and best scientific research and techniques which have enabled this family business to produce a huge range of award-winning Welsh produce.

In the run up to Christmas and New Year, gigantic ribs of Welsh Black beef, succulent cuts of tender Welsh lamb and prime Welsh pork and free-range poultry have been flying out of the Canton shop into the delighted arms of discerning shoppers, including a number of the capital’s top restaurateurs and wholesale buyers.

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“From the elderly pensioners who pop in to buy just one or two Welsh lamb chops, a couple of home-processed sausages or free-range farm eggs to wholesale buyers and the top-class chefs who want to discuss menus they’re planning, we pride ourselves on the service being just the same, the smile just as welcoming.

“We want all our customers to buy into the experience of enjoying exceptional top-quality Welsh farm produce, with proven provenance from field to fork, because this is what will keep Welsh farmers going despite the uncertain trading conditions of the future,” says Shaun.

“Starting a new butchery business in Cardiff, which already has a superb city centre meat and produce market, as well as numerous successful independent butchery businesses and all the retail giants, felt like a daunting, almost impossible dream.

“It took quite a bit of courage and confidence to open my first shop but I’m so glad that I went ahead, as there’s nothing more rewarding than hearing many of our loyal customers say we sell the most outstanding produce they’ve ever tasted!”

Shaun, whose farm was singled out by Sainsbury’s in 2015 as one of nine UK farms invited to trial a two-and-a-half-year grazing project, credits his experience as a Farming Connect Agri Academy Business and Innovation Programme graduate as a contributory factor to his business confidence.

“As a former teacher, I understand the importance of learning. It’s essential to be open to new ideas, new inspiration and to embrace new, improved ways of working and I believe that the most progressive and successful farm businesses are those run by individuals willing to develop their own personal skills, which in turn helps them develop more ambitious business skills.

“Farming Connect’s Agri Academy, through its programme of training, mentoring, support and guidance and perhaps most importantly through the networking opportunities, could be a life-changing opportunity, so my advice is, apply now.”

The application window for Agri Academy 2019 will open on Tuesday 22 January 2019 and remain open until 31 March. For further information and eligibility criteria, visit www.gov.wales/farmingconnect

Farming Connect is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

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