Job opportunity in Black Mountains, South Wales for a couple to manage a Retreat Centre, with an organic garden
We are seeking a creative, adventurous and hard working couple to live in, develop and run a successful, ecologically friendly and relatively self-sufficient retreat centre, growing organic foods and maintaining a 19-acre farm in the Black Mountains of Wales. The farm is owned by Patrick Holford, a nutrition expert, and Gaby, who currently handles all bookings.
A 19-acre farm, Fforest Barn Retreat, Forest Coalpit NP7 7LL in the Black Mountains of Wales, within the National Park near Abergavenny with stunning views, walks in each direction and a small lake. There is a 17th century farmhouse, two conjoined barns which is the main retreat space area, a cabin (where the owners live part time) an ecopod, two gyspy caravans, two huts, a treehouse and safari tent in the summer (see holfordnaturalholidays.com).
Fforest Barn Rooms
Fforest Barn Bedrooms
Fforest Glen Glamping
The property is largely booked out for the whole of 2024 with weekend retreats or holiday lets and is in demand.
The farmhouse is to be extended to provide three further bedrooms for retreats and garden volunteers; with the option with of some self-contained air b&b type lets. And an outhouse providing a laundry is currently under construction.
A large agri-shed is also potentially convertible into a second studio/teaching space and for growing mushrooms. This, ultimately, provides additional facility for retreats. (The owners, who live in the cabin, also have a 3/4 bedroom house on the carless island of Lamu, Kenya, which is holiday let which could be part of the managed properties.)
The Overall Intention
Create and support an ecologically rich environment for people to attend on third-party retreats (and some holiday lets), selling as much organic food grown on the farm as possible, and providing an opportunity for visitors to ‘connect’ with nature, themselves. There are sheep (managed by local farmer), alpacas and the intention is to have chickens for eggs and Indian runner ducks.
To find a couple to take on the management of the buildings and their turnaround for retreats, land, animals and food growing. Accommodation is provided in the farmhouse as part of the package with a reasonable wage and potential for profit share as the business and opportunities develop. The farmhouse provides a private bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen for the couple.
How to do this initially covering costs, with the intention to generate additional profitable income, and providing a reasonable living for those involved both in the short term and the future. We are therefore looking for a self-motivated couple with both the necessary skills and initiative, looking to a long-term position. In the immediate short-term the business is not sufficiently scaled, efficient and profitable to provide a full-time position for two people.
The perfect couple is best described by listing the functions that need to be covered:
Person 1 (full-time)
Has experience growing fruit and vegetables (and potentially mushrooms and cut flowers), a passion for organic/zero-dig/regenerative farming methods. Is in charge of planning the successional growing to maximise in demand produce. Communicates well with the retreats leader customers so everyone knows what’s available at what cost ahead of the retreat in order to maximise sales. Explore add on products and routes for sales.
- Multi-skilled for maintenance to ensure retreat property is fully functional, well maintained, attending to repairs, and the setting up and closing down of the summer glamping tents and field.
- Getting involved in building and development projects. Some building and DIY experience is important. (Has access to contractors.)
- In the near future these include developing the agri-shed; the farmhouse conversion; the lake for a natural water pool; and a solar project.
- Managing and maintaining the land – lawns, hedges and fences.
- Organising volunteers to help in the busy seasons and for specific projects such as hedge and tree planting, vegetable garden expansion etc.
- Looking after the alpacas and setting up the chickens to provide eggs as part of the home-grown produce. Possibly Indian runner ducks for eating slugs.
Person 2 (part-time)
- Focussed on guest and housekeepers (cleaning/laundry) liaison, working with Gaby who currently deals with all bookings.
- Responsible for the overall standard of the retreat centre and all glamping units, ensuring kitchen facilities are in order, the standard of cleanliness is maintained, and systems set up for reporting and replacing breakages and repair.
- Oversee the house-keeper and laundry duties using check list at the end of each change over.
- Responsible for the bedroom list for each retreat for the cleaners.
- Greeting new guests/retreat leaders, delivering produce.
- Clear communication with guests if they need help during retreats.
- Showing the space to prospect retreat leaders.
The need, at this point is part-time with potential to be more full time as the business expands, with the option of becoming involved in the marketing for bookings and the inclusion of the property in Lamu, Kenya. Other possibilities are running b&b accommodation in the farmhouse house extension when not in use for retreats or garden volunteers; offering therapy treatments (if so qualified) or developing this option for retreats; getting involved with the home-grown produce flowers and sales; and PA support for the owner.
Patrick & Gaby currently take charge of all retreat bookings (Gaby) and oversee the internal (Gaby) and external maintenance and building development (Patrick) adding on an extra room and laundry and an extension to the farmhouse to create self-contained three rooms with a shared bathroom.
Please send your CVs to firstname.lastname@example.org. Having growing experience (in the organic ethos), maintenance skills and some ‘groundsman’ experience is essential for the full-time role. You’ll be sent more details including terms and, if applicable, arrange an initial interview and a time to visit Fforest Barn Retreat, Forest Coalpit, near Abergavenny NP7 7LL, approx 2.5 hours from London or Manchester by car or train.