Mike Coe
Mike Coe on day one as general manager of Greenmeadow Community Farm (Photo: Cwmbran Life)

The new general manager at Greenmeadow Community Farm has started work.

Mike Coe has previously worked in senior managerial and commercial roles at Bristol Zoo, Bristol Aquarium and Westonbirt, the National Arboretum.

Cwmbran Life met Mr Coe on Tuesday 6 February 2024, his first day in the new role.

He said: “Well of course, it’s still the first day, so very much learning about the people and the site. And actually the thing when you chat to not just the staff but everyone I sort of bumped into around here is the sort of love and the history and the real connection with Greenmeadow Farm.

“The fact that they either came here as children or their children have come here before. So yes, that sense of wow, the history of the site and how we’ll be able to connect that into the story that we’re building here.

“You look around the site and all the work that’s got to be done here, you think of what we’ve got to do. You’ve got to build the animal shelters. We’ve got to build the barns, paths, fences.

“There’s so much to be able to do and pull this all together. As well as developing that story, the educational offer that we’ve got here as well.

“So it’s not just the visitors coming on site, it’s that connection with the schools as well, and the community, you know volunteers used to be a big part of the interaction that the farm had here, so how we can engage the community through the volunteer work and get more hands-on to help and support.

“You look at the plans and the money that’s being spent, it’s a much wider offer that we’re going to have here.

“And it’s not just about through the paywall, it’s about, first off, that impression as you get to the site, the cafe, the new farm shop, being able to get people on-site there.

“So we’re going to have obviously the new play barn. That’s going to be a great way for kids to interact. And also beyond that, you know, community events are very much about the community, but actually, community engaging with the site so we’re going to have a community event space.

“Hopefully we’ll work on developing those plans for things like weddings and birthdays, those sort of life events that we can celebrate on-site.

“So a much wider offer than what we previously probably had on site. Plans for the farm are really, really exciting. I think that’s what attracted me over.

“I’ve worked at the National Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, Bristol Zoo, working on the project, closing down Bristol Zoo and developing the new Bristol Zoo project in Bristol. And the designs for that new, that new attraction as well.

“And also Bristol Aquarium, you know, relaunching Bristol Aquarium there. So what’s attracted me over here was just that, that excitement of the plans, because I really think that this farm can be a regional-sized attraction.

“We can attract far more visitors here if we just get those stories right. But also the investment from that, from the council as well, that welcome investment into the site, really to make it feel loved, but also actually to bring it up to that level of attraction that I’ve been working at.

“We can absolutely deliver something along those lines here in Torfaen.

“I think it’s David Attenborough, a great quote from David Attenborough is ‘we’ll only save what we care about and we will only care about what we can experience.’ So, you know, to be able to make young people want to be able to connect with this environment, connect with the heritage and connect with the natural world and pulling all that together.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming people onto site for Spring 2025.”

Councillor Fiona Cross, Torfaen’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Mike has worked at some of the most popular tourist attractions in the South-West and has a track record of making them successful. He has demonstrated significant commercial acumen in his previous roles and his experience of leading teams and working with volunteers makes it a great appointment for the farm.”

The community farm is currently undergoing a multi-million-pound transformation which aims to deliver:

  • a transformed Haybarn suitable for weddings, parties and community events
  • a new all-weather indoor play barn with play equipment and improved outdoor adventure play area
  • a new barn for the animals
  • new and extended café
  • a revamped shop to sell and promote local produce and suppliers
  • new woodland trails and sensory paths
  • Improved education experiences
  • improvements to site accessibility.

Coley Hill Consultants, who have been working on the new concept and vision for Greenmeadow Community Farm since March 2023, said: “We’re delighted Mike is joining the team, he brings a huge amount of knowledge and experience and we are very much looking forward to working with him and the rest of the staff at the farm on this exciting project. We can’t wait to share the new visitor experiences at the Farm when visitors are welcomed back in Spring 2025.”