Dinah Williams, ‘Organic Pioneer’ is to be the seventh Purple Plaque in Wales. It will be unveiled on the cow byre at her home, Brynllys, Dôl-y-bont, Borth, on Friday 24th September 2021. This site has been chosen as the heart of her work with animals and the land.
Dinah’s was a life dedicated to the land and all it supports. She followed her childhood ambition to be a farmer and followed her principles and belief in the power of nature, and the need to look at the complete food chain to improve human health. She believed that early nutrition of any young organism is fundamental and that this applies to all living things, from plants, through animals to humans. This in its turn governs how the soil should be managed to produce food.
In 1952 Dinah became one of the earliest members of the Soil Association(SA), a formalisation of her long-held beliefs and practices. Her farm, Brynllys, became Britain’s first certified organic dairy farm, and in the 1970’s she became a SA Council member. This led to her working with Major Sedley Sweeny who had founded the Tibetan Farm School near Brecon. She also contributed to the Bryn Gwyn project in South Wales, which used organic methods to restore grassland after open cast coal mining.
In the mid-seventies Dinah was instrumental in setting up the West Wales Soil Association, hugely influential in organic development in the UK. Other formal achievements included:
- President of the English Guernsey Cattle Society;
- Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society;
- Lifelong member of the Grassland Society;
- Vocal contributor to the local NFU.
It was as a pioneer in the Organic Movement that Dinah’s influence has been most marked. Her passion for the subject and her support and nurturing of young incomers to West Wales in the 1970’s helped to establish organic farming as mainstream in the area. Arguably it was this unseen and unrecorded support, which bore most fruit. This is evidenced in the respect paid to organic agriculture by the Welsh Government today.
Dinah’s influence on the lives of women has been, first, by her own example of what a woman can achieve in what was, at that time (the 1940’s-1960’s) very much a man’s world. As a young woman she farmed with her mother, then with her husband and then with her daughter and son-in-law, leading to the formation of Rachel’s Dairy, Wales’ first organic dairy brand.
Dinah’s manner was quiet and unassuming, her stature diminutive, but her beliefs rock solid. She was not retiring by nature. When no longer actively farming she regularly visited farms, especially those of the incomers to Wales in the 1970’s, setting an example of an outward looking world view, and an openness which is often a rare attribute among farmers. Dinah left a huge record of public service, but in addition she lent unseen and unrecorded support to those she felt would take the message forward.
Purple Plaques Wales is delighted to add this exceptional woman to our list.