bfa shortlist

Laura and John Lewis

Nant-y-Gelli Farm,

Squirrels Nest Treehouse Retreat,


Sponsored by: CLA

IN order to safeguard their farm’s future, Laura and John Lewis decided that diversifying the family Welsh hill farm in Powys was the way to move forwards. The couple entertained various ideas, including poultry, but set their sights on accommodation. The farm is at the heart of the new accommodation enterprise, which consists of three wooden treehouses set in the 364 hectares (900 acres) of Maelinaidd Hill. They run more than 400 sheep and now feel their unique and somewhat remote location has, in the end, become their unique selling point.

Laura says: “We originally put planning permission in for a poultry unit, however we just did not think this option was viable and right for us as a family. We are also near a Site of Special Scientific Interest and the access was not brilliant. “After months of extensive research, we decided to build our first treehouse at our new holiday let business on-farm, Squirrels Nest Treehouse Retreat. “We wanted to build something that would stand out from the crowd, be totally unique, luxurious and stand the trials of time.”

Laura has also set up an online holiday let directory called The Wanderlist. It is a way to work more collaboratively with other farm businesses and support them directly by allowing them to take more ownership of their holiday let bookings. They have already achieved a great deal, most notably their joint marketing campaign with popular interior and homeware brand, Dunelm. This gave them a significant number of new followers and helped them boost businesses immediately.

But Laura also values the benefits of networking, as she explains. “It is a key marketing call that can often be missed. Being in such a rural location, it can often feel quite isolating. “In 2020 I was awarded a place on the Farming Connect Agri Academy. Due to the pandemic, everything got moved onto 2021/2022 but as a result I have been on some amazing trips, including study tours to Scotland and Spain. “It has been very refreshing to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who strive to make farming a success for their family.”