Creatures great and small boost Yorkshire farm attraction
5 March 2012
Geckos, chipmunks and rheas, an ostrich-like bird, aren’t usually found on a Yorkshire farm but a local attraction is hoping they will help boost visitor numbers.
Three generations of Jonathan Charlesworth’s family have worked the 60 acres of land at Broad Close Farm, Silkstone, but he decided to diversify five years ago to safeguard the farm’s future.
The farm specialises in rearing rare and traditional breeds of pigs, cows, and sheep, and has a farm shop, coffee shop and new pet store, and its pets’ corner is also home to an expanding collection of more unorthodox animals.
Business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley is helping Jonathan and wife Nicola to raise the profile of their attraction, especially to visitors from outside the Barnsley area.
Jonathan said: “We offer something different in the region in terms of the meat we sell, but also the experience for our visitors as we don’t charge admission to see our animals.
“The recession has had an effect on visitor spending so we’re really hoping that the new pet shop and other improvement plans will encourage families to come along this spring and see Broad Close Farm for themselves. We also want to move in to offering educational visits as we believe that children and adults should be aware of what they eat and how it’s been produced.”
Jonathan’s grandfather John first bought the farm, on Cone Lane, in 1957 and then dad Philip took over. Jonathan and Nicola, who have two sons, Brook, 11, and Joel, three, built the farm shop in 2007 and the farm moved from mixed farming to specialising in the rearing of Tamworth pigs and Dexter cattle.
Jonathan said these breeds are said to produce the most flavoursome pork and beef, which is made “exceptional” by the natural way they are reared. The pigs forage and live as they would in the wild, in ancient woodland on the farm and breed all year round. The cows are free to roam and graze on farmland from spring to autumn. The farm also runs a flock of Mule and Mule-cross Texel Ewes which are lambed in two batches, in January and May, giving spring lamb in the shop throughout the year.
The pets’ corner is home to a breeding trio of rheas which can be seen by visitors, along with a wide array of other animals and birds, from chipmunks and ferrets, to ducks, geckos and a rescued mule called Molly. A barn owl and red squirrels will also soon be moving in. Small animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, which are bred on the farm, are available for visitors to buy.
In addition, the farm runs pony rides and pony parties for youngsters and is about to offer doves for release during weddings and other occasions.
The development of Broad Close Farm is being boosted by specialist help from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley - a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre.
Marketing coach Judith Hutchinson has worked with the Charlesworths to draw up a marketing plan which includes brand development and increased use of social media.
Jonathan said: “We’ve always been full of ideas but marketing has been a weakness. The support through Enterprising Barnsley has really helped streamline our thoughts and make them more workable. We’re looking forward to seeing our business develop further.”
The Enterprising Barnsley Programme is supported financially by the European Union. Phase two of the project has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
Notes to News Editors:
Attached picture: Jonathan and Nicola Charlesworth. More available on request.
Media contact for Broad Close Farm: Jonathan Charlesworth on 01226 790900.