The keys to a £1m farm and the future of a precious landscape are up for grabs for just £1 a year, as long as you have a passion for nature, people, and a lot of sheep.
Last year the National Trust stepped in to protect the rare and fragile landscape of the Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales.
The conservation charity is now offering the lease on that land for just a pound to ensure it can recover, thrive and give a potential shepherding star a helping hand to start out in farming.
The charity took action to buy the 58 ha (145 acres) Parc Farm and grazing rights over 291 ha (720 acres) not only because some of its key habitats and species were deemed at threat, but because it was being sold with the potential to develop its fragile limestone grasslands into a golf course.
The unique £1 tenancy follows on from the announcement of the conservation charity’s new 10-year vision, aimed at reversing the alarming decline in wildlife – 60 per cent in the past 50 years – and finding long-term solutions to help nurse the countryside back to health and deliver for nature.
In buying Parc Farm at the Orme’s summit and the associated grazing rights over the majority of the headland, the National Trust has taken on the means to ensure the survival of its internationally rare habitats and species, some of which exist nowhere else on earth.
Extensive research by the charity and its conservation partners at the Orme has shown the special needs of this coastal headland require a nature-first approach which may go against the grain of some modern farming methods.
“Unless we implement a very specific grazing regime we will not see these most fragile habitats recover,” said general manager William Greenwood.
“Put simply, to ensure a healthy and beautiful landscape we need the most agriculturally productive pastureland to be grazed less, and the least agriculturally productive grassland to be grazed more.”
This unconventional farming method of regularly moving sheep means long hours shepherding on often difficult terrain, while also working around the 600,000 visitors to the Great Orme each year.
“For the benefit of the Orme we are looking for a tenant who sees a productive farm as one which maintains healthy wildlife and encourages visitors to act for nature, as well as produce good, healthy food,” added Mr Greenwood.
“To give him or her a head start and the best chance of success, we are taking away the financial pressure of having to cover the rent for the farm, the grazing rights and the farmhouse each year.”
Not only will the 10 year Farm Business Tenancy be offered at just a £1 a year to help the new farmer but Conservation Charity Plantlife has also pledged to buy the new tenant the flock of sheep needed to graze the Great Orme.