Social enterprises blazing a trail in north Wales

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Social enterprises blazing a trail in north Wales

Tregarth-based social enterprise Moelyci Environmental Centre is kicking off an ambitious development plan to expand its facilities for the local community.

Supporting communities

06 September 2011

The Centre, set on a 340-acre site near Bangor, has emerged as an important environmental, educational and community base for families and professionals since it was established as an Industrial and Provident Society in 2003 by local residents. Formerly part of the Penrhyn Estate, it now runs with two full-time and four part-time staff and an army of 15 local volunteers, and remains under the ownership of the local community.

With a £130,000 support package from NatWest, the enterprise is now investing in a barn renovation project which will create a multi-purpose space for up to 100 people, for meetings, entertainment, weddings and training events.

The Centre was set up by a group of enterprising local people when the upland sheep farm at Moelyci was due to be sold and developed as holiday accommodation. They believed they could breathe new life into the farm as a community facility, providing volunteering and employment opportunities while preserving its natural heritage.

As well as running courses from its Tregarth site, the business also operates 55 community allotments, a soft-fruit field, where customers can pick their own, and an 8-acre market garden and shop. Moelyci has recently introduced a veg box scheme, with a customer pick-up service every Friday. Their fresh vegetables are also on sale at the monthly farmers market at Llys Dafydd, Bethesda, as well as being served up at local restaurants.

Development manager Paul Christie said: "This is a very exciting time for us, as we are getting involved in lots of new projects. Our first outing to the Bethesda farmers market was very productive and we are seeing good interest in our new veg boxes. As well as getting our new community facility up and running once the barn renovation is done, we are looking to consolidate our good progress so far and strive to make the market garden self-sustaining. I'm very keen to hear from any potential volunteers who feel they can make a contribution at Moelyci."

Alastair Foster, NatWest senior relationship manager for commercial banking, said: "Welsh social enterprises are outperforming the rest of the UK at the moment and Moelyci is a great example of a dynamic enterprise on track for fast growth. The sector has significant social impact and is making a rapidly increasing contribution to the Welsh economy. I wish Moelyci well with the development work and I look forward to seeing the barn once it's ready for action."

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