19 July 2002

Sea fish farm helps net pair

business prize

THE first Welsh winners of a new Rural Business Challenge Award have diversified into growing flax, tourism and farming marine fish.

Arthur and Nia Parry first converted redundant buildings at Afonwen Farm on the Lleyn Peninsula into holiday cottages. When the 30 month rule ruined their specialist mature beef finishing enterprise they turned to an EU scheme offering incentives to sow flax.

In partnership with marine biologist Mark Rigby, the couple then established a 10-tank sea fish farm, which is capable of producing up to 20t of sea bass/year using water pumped from 700m away.

Used water settles in ponds before being returned to the sea and there are plans to also use these to rear clams and grow the salt marsh salad plant samphire for sale.

Despite the changes on his 68.6ha (170 acre) farm, Mr Parry insists he is still a farmer. Sue Evans, the CLAs north Wales surveyor, says the Parrys are an excellent example for others to follow. "Many smaller farms will only survive if they diversify into alterative crops and non-agricultural businesses." &#42