Why one family’s move from the big smoke to the Welsh hills is great news for garden lovers
Pictures: Naomi Campbell Photography
On April 13th, the new owners of a little garden nursery in Ysbyty Ystwyth, nestled into the stunning Cambrian mountainside, held their first ever Annual Spring Festival to mark the re-opening of the business. With Councillor Ifan Davies there to cut the ribbon and bless the couple on their new venture and lives in Ceredigion, the event included a whole range of activities and stalls that culminated in a great day out for all the family. Even the sun blessed them that day with blue skies over the entire valley.
Paul and Tam Johnson, along with their three children and family dog, moved to Ysbyty, Ceredigion, in November 2018 all the way from Kent, leaving friends and family (and steady pay checks) behind to start a new life in Wales. It wasn’t a difficult decision; the couple had long been dreaming of a land-based lifestyle in Wales. Worsening quality of life and the cost of living so near to London (where Paul worked as a data centre network engineer) made the decision that much easier.
Funding the entire operation from the nominal proceeds from the sale of their house in Kent, they have been slowly making improvements to the business, which they hope will become a valuable part of the community. The nursery was set up several years before with a focus on offering quality Welsh-grown plants and vegetables within the community, but after the founder left in 2016 it was reduced to being managed by a single part-time employee. Paul and Tam saw all the potential hiding inside the many empty pots dotted around and took it on with plans to re-establish the business and create something truly special.
The Spring Festival was as much to mark the beginning of all this, as well as to celebrate other small local businesses. The day was given a truly festive air with bell tents supplied by Gwdihw Camping and portaloos were supplied by Kangaloos in Ystrad Meurig. The stallholders there included Companion Canine Capers, Penrhiw Pottery, Turn The Page children’s bookstore, Naomi Campbell Photography, Bottle & Barrel Welsh craft beers, Kirstie’s Welsh Mylks organic dairy alternatives, Capturing Moments children’s crafts, The Hafod Walled Garden Group and delicious food by The Grail Cafe and Madam Indy Thai take-away. To add to the atmosphere and experience was live music by Louise & The Feathers and a short talk by Aberystwyth’s own bestselling author Sid Madge.
With their range of site-grown organically produced plants and vegetables, as well as Welsh grown bedding and basket plants, the nursery is unique for a few more reasons. The entire site is completely off-grid, powered by solar and wind with rain-water collection providing all the water needed to supply the nursery. They are also extremely eco-conscious; they are the only stockist of Ecoal50 in the area, and they offer a pot-recycling service for locals to avoid more plastic going into landfill.