Ancient tradition of herbal lore revived in Myddfai
Herbs set to remedy the health of a Welsh village
BBC “Village SOS” project to put declining Welsh village back on the map
The tiny village of Myddfai in the Brecon Beacons has received Big Lottery funding to create a sustainable business venture based on ancient local herbal traditions, which residents hope will restore the village's fortunes.
Just a few decades ago, Myddfai was a lively village with three pubs, two shops, a post office, a smithy and a slaughterhouse. Today it has no amenities at all, and many younger residents have left to find work elsewhere.
Myddfai was selected from hundreds of villages across the UK competing to be part of the exciting 'Village SOS' rural regeneration initiative, backed by the BIG Lottery Fund and the BBC. Village SOS supports villages with brilliant ideas for new businesses aimed at bringing energy and life back to the community.
Myddfai's pioneering idea is to create a sustainable business selling Myddfai-branded products that draw on the fascinating herbal heritage of the area, and traditional craft skills found within the local community.
“Steeped in legend, Myddfai was renowned across Europe in medieval times for its skilled physicians,” explains Jo Gideon, Village Champion. “The dynasty created by physician Rhiwallon prospered for over 500 years and people travelled from far and wide to Myddfai for the knowledge of The 'Physicians' and their plant-based potions in the hope of curing all sorts of common ailments. Today our village project has created a strong Myddfai brand and a range of herbal products based on this heritage, and all profits from the business will be pumped back into the community to secure its future.”
Economic and social benefits
The first big project milestone has been passed: the launch of a website and online shop at www.myddfai.com, creating the first outlet for the new range of products. Next, the crumbling village hall, Ty Talcen, will be rebuilt by late 2011 to provide both a social hub for residents and a new Visitor Centre and shop for tourists to the area.
Myddfai's products include a range of herbal teas, luxury handmade soaps and other plant-based cosmetics, plus branded kitchenware, gifts and crafts. The range will expand over the coming months as the project develops.
The Visitor Centre will focus on showcasing Mydffai's heritage, legends and traditions, keeping them alive for future generations and for tourists visiting the area. The website and shop hope to generate much-needed revenue to support further community improvements and amenities, and a herb garden maintained by community volunteers will produce some of the herbs used by the Physicians to demonstrate to future generations how they were applied.
Villagers also hope the project will win the support of their Royal neighbour, HRH The Prince of Wales, who chose Myddfai as the location for his only home in Wales, and is well-known for his strong interest in sustainability issues and herbal remedies.
Myddfai as a travel destination
Once the Visitor Centre and shop is complete and ready to welcome tourists, Myddfai has further ambitious plans to market itself as a unique destination for well-being breaks and other holidays amidst the stunning Brecon Beacons.
The picturesque village already has a whole host of outdoor activities on its doorstep, including a Red Kite Feeding Station for bird-lovers, and is located near the wonderful National Botanic Garden of Wales - as well as many lively market towns and other tourist attractions.
For further information about the village of Myddfai and its expanding herbal product range, please visit http://www.myddfai.com/