How many of us can truly say that we love what do?
Following a great conversation with Gareth Wyn- Jones (the Hill Farmer), I can genuinely say that he does. A customer for over 30 years, Gareth works in a family partnership that runs back generations and is model of diversity.
The seven partner business, Owen Jones & Sons is named after its founder, Gareth’s grandfather. The family manages over 3,500 ewes, 300 head of cattle and a 10 acre caravan park. Situated in the Carneddau Mountain Range the farm isn’t a day job, it’s a passion that fuels Gareth and as far as he’s concerned it’s the best job in the world.
When I asked him to explain why he has been a customer of NFU Mutual for this long, his response was simple “You just get us”.
How does the local, personal service from our branch work for you?
“Everyone in the local branch is great: from the team in the office who are always on hand when I need them, to Sioned (our Agent in Llanrwst). The knowledge of farming makes a real difference. Everyone in the office just gets it. Their agricultural background means they understand the challenges
“When you farm animals, despite your best efforts, unfortunate things can happen and you lose animals. The team in office understand that the loss of the animal isn’t just ‘one of those things’. They know that the residual value of the animal has an impact and this needs to be covered in my insurance”.
What happens when things go wrong?
“The team explain everything. As I mentioned, we have a 10 acre caravan park and this has a number of static caravan’s onsite and some have overhanging trees. When I wanted to cut the trees down, the team explained that I’d need public liability cover, so we added it to my policy. A few years later a branch from an overhanging tree fell on the caravans, I was so relieved that that the caravans were empty – but I had peace of mind because of the advice the team had given me and that meant a lot”.
So how often do you see Sioned?
“At least once a year, Sioned will come out to the farm and run through everything with me. We work together. It doesn’t end there, though, I may have a question that just crops up and I can call the office and they’ll either answer straight away or get back to me really quickly”.
What’s the life of the Hill Farmer like?
“Well it’s an isolated life as a hill farmer. I’d done bits of TV work, then I was asked to do The Hill Farm documentary for BBC Wales and S4C. Whilst working on the show, I started using Twitter. I use Twitter to share the challenges and joys of being a farmer. What’s great is that people from across the country, well the world really, ask me questions about farming. Educating people about food and where it comes from is very important to me”.
Has social media brought any business benefits?
“A couple of years ago, following one of the worst winters in years, I was contacted by Lidgates, who are a high end butchers in Holland Park (London). They wanted me to supply them with lamb, but I had to send them a couple of samples. Despite the conditions I was able to get the lamb through to them and I’m pleased to say that will still supply them. Without social media though, I don’t know whether this would have happened”.
Because of his positive approach, Gareth has become an ambassador for a variety of businesses and participates in interviews about UK farming. At the heart of everything that Gareth does is his passion for his work, local food and his local economy.