PLANS for a new market garden by Carmarthenshire’s River Towy and tree-planting throughout the county have been approved by the council’s cabinet.

The authority has 24 farms covering some 2,500 acres, which it rents out, plus 40 parcels of grazing and bare land.

One of the holdings, Bremenda Isaf Farm, Llanarthne, is currently vacant. The council will now set up a market garden on 10 to 15 acres at the 100-acre farm – including a small “no-dig” section – capable of yielding some seven tonnes of produce per year.

The food project involves other groups and has some UK Government funding. The idea is to re-let the farm in due course to a tenant who would manage the fruit and veg-growing venture. The produce would be for schools and care homes to start with, and potentially expand further.

Cabinet also approved plans at the September 18 meeting to plant 66 acres of trees on land at seven parcels of grazing and bare land from Llandovery in the north to Bynea in the south.

Cllr Alun Lenny, cabinet member for resources, said: “As we know, trees help mitigate climate change. They remove carbon dioxide from the air, store carbon in their timber and the soil, and release oxygen into the atmosphere.

“New woodland planting also creates new wildlife habitat and provide linkages between existing habitats, building essential ecological connectivity and ecosystem resilience.”

Referring to the market garden proposal, he said: “Our ambition is to increase local food production, support rural initiatives and enable diversification on the farm estate, for the purposes of ensuring future sustainability.”

The council wants to reduce its share of carbon emissions, and also mitigate the loss of trees suffering from a disease called ash dieback.

Cllr Lenny added that the nature of agriculture had changed a lot recently, and that the council should consider how to use land in more imaginative ways while still recognising the need for more traditional farms.

In addition, it is likely that any farm will need to have at least 10% of woodland cover to qualify for Welsh Government support under its new sustainable farming scheme. Councillors representing areas where the tree-planting is proposed will be consulted.

Cllr Ann Davies, whose cabinet brief includes rural affairs, said she was confident that monitoring of the fruit and veg project at Bremenda Isaf Farm would demonstrate it was profitable, and that there would also be data gathered about biodiversity and phosphate levels.

“Even more pleasing will be children and the elderly eating fresh and good local food,” she said.