Bristol farmer swaps hogs for holiday homes as he looks to diversify
A sixth-generation family farmer from Bristol has renovated his farmhouse into a five-bedroom holiday let as he looks to bring the farm into a new era.
Until February last year, George Ford’s family farming business, Nempnett Pastures, was home to an indoor pig rearing unit. While this was a significant source of profit, the system never lived up to George’s high-welfare ethos and principles, ultimately, driving him to focus the business on producing meat in a more ethical manner, as well as pursuing other revenue streams.
So when the farm’s pig unit needed updating, George and his team decided to explore new ways of attracting people to the farm rather than modernising the sheds and intensifying its pig rearing operation, which would have compromised animal welfare – a non-negotiable for George and his team.
George said: “When we made the choice last year to discontinue our intensive indoor pig unit in favour of higher welfare standards, we knew our profits would be impacted if we didn’t do something different to secure revenue.”
So he converted the farm’s 400-year-old farmhouse into a luxurious five-bedroom holiday let for tourists. Its impact on the farm’s fortunes – and accounts – has been immediate, with turnover increasing by £60k in its first 6 months of operation.
To complete the renovations, Nempnett Pastures approached Lloyds Bank, securing a £100,000 funding package.
George continues: “Thanks to Lloyds Bank, we’ve been able to transform our farmhouse and welcome guests to experience what we have to offer on the farm as we head towards more sustainable ways of working.”
Alongside the now hugely successful holiday lettings business, Nempnett Pastures specialises in higher welfare poultry and beef farming, with a wide range of livestock, from Christmas turkeys and chickens to 100% grass-fed beef cows. The farm has also started hosting open farm events inviting the public onto the farm to learn, play and eat. Whilst visitors are on the farm they can take a farm safari to learn about the animals and reconnect them with their food.
Having taken over the reins of running the farm in 2017, George is fiercely passionate about maintaining the farm’s high standards and profitability, with over 200 years of success behind it.
George said: “We’re very proud to produce meat from the highest welfare standards possible at Nempnett Pastures. It’s great to see the progress we’ve made over the last six years in rearing our poultry and cattle in an increasingly ethical and sustainable manner.”
Michael Stus, relationship director of Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We’re always happy to support businesses like Nempnett Pastures who are focused not only on their growth and development, but also on their values and ethics. We look forward to seeing the business develop and are excited for new customers to discover their high-quality products.
“We’ll continue to be by the side of George and his team, as well as other similar businesses that are looking to expand their offering and provide new services to their customers.”
Plans are now in place to expand the firm’s customer base through more pop-up events on the farm.