For five generations, one thing has remained a constant in the small village of Three Crosses in Gower, the Morgan family has run a successful farming operation at Poundffald Farm.

It would once be common place when there were still slaughterhouses in Swansea to see the family walk the cattle from the Gower village into the city.

As the years went by, due to the economy, the business grew smaller, with supermarkets giving the family very poor prices for meat and cattle, but in 1997, David Morgan still ran a finely tuned operation with 2,000 sheep and 200 cattle on their vast fields.

READ MORE: The lavender fields a Gower Christmas tree and sunflowers farmer hopes will be the next big Instagrammable attraction

For his son, Rob Morgan, there was only one thing he wanted to do when he grew older, and that was to succeed his father and carry on the family business. To the pride of his dad, he went to study agriculture in Winchester for two years, before returning home to work alongside him.

Due to the economy, the business grew smaller, with supermarkets giving the family very poor prices for meat and cattle, so Mr Morgan saw an opportunity to try something different, planting Christmas trees.

The first trees were planted in 1997 after Mr Morgan admits he "nagged his father to give him a field". Despite the first crop of trees being eaten by rabbits after they were inadvertently over-fertilised, they began to grow nicely and everything was going well.

But two years later there was to be unspeakable tragedy for the family that nobody could have anticipated. Unbeknownst to anyone, David Morgan had been battling depression, and had been overcome by the worries of the industry, with the foot and mouth disease crisis and very low prices being offered for their products. He tragically took his own life in 1999 aged just 55, leaving behind his son, his daughter Katherine and wife Betsan.

Rob Morgan, right, pictured with sister Katherine Morgan, left, and his late parents David and Betsan Morgan

"It doesn't get any worse. I wouldn't wish it on anyone in this world," Rob Morgan said.

"My dad was a fit, strong person. In those days, as a very proud man and a farmer, farming was his life, he had a great love for horses and he bred the 1987 Grand National winner Maori Venture, I think that was his highlight in life. But they tended to keep their feelings in. He wasn't going to go to the local mart and tell his farming friends 'I'm not feeling well'. Depression was a bit of a taboo subject back then, and when we knew it was too late."

The loss of Mr Morgan rocked the foundations of the Morgan family.

Rob explained: "I wouldn't want to wish it on anyone with how dark it got after he passed. I remember it getting to a stage where I was telling myself, it can't get any worse than this.

"I had to go from a boy to a man overnight in my early twenties. It sent a big shockwave through the entire family for me, my mum and my sister. When the man who sits at the end of the table and carves the meat isn't there, it leaves a big gap.

"I had to adjust my wellbeing. I love my sea swims, I do yoga. It's not the normal thing a farmer does, but this is what a farmer needs to do. That helped me mentally and physically. But it is the hardest learning curve I'll ever go through. I lost my mum last year to cancer too. I smile every day, I cry every day. You have to be positive. I see other people struggling in life, and it's great where I can offer my help wherever I can, even if it's words of wisdom or when I can relate to a situation. You can see someone in the street and you can see they are absolutely rock bottom."

David Morgan bred the 1987 Grand National winner Maori Venture

In memory of his father, and in the hopes his help can help prevent further tragedies in future, Mr Morgan has got involved with the DPJ Foundation, which aims to support those in the agricultural sector suffering from poor mental health. He also helps advise a mental health group in Swansea on farm related stress.

"The problem is still here but it's getting it into the light a bit more so that it is out in the open rather than back then when it was the dark side of farming," he said.

Mr Morgan became driven to make a success of the farm to make his dad proud, and, with the industry struggling, decided to take a different path which has reaped huge reward. He took the tough decision to sell the sheep and cattle which were on the farm and refocus his efforts in growing Christmas trees.

It was not until 2004 that he had his first crop to sell, but once he did, they sold within a week, opening his eyes to the potential of the business moving forward.

The 47-year-old said: "Local farmers thought I was mad to plough this field up for these tiny little trees in the beginning - I think even my dad doubted it a bit to be honest. The first crop of trees got eaten by rabbits. I over-fertilised them expecting them to grow fast, so it was a sharp learning curve. It was about 2004 that I had the first crop of trees to sell. I sold them within about a week. I was amazed. It was great to finally sell some trees after planting them for seven years. There was no income, no subsidy like some places get, so it was quite a proud achievement.

"I put a lot of research, time and effort into growing Christmas trees, and to be a good Christmas tree grower you have to focus on that, I had to sell the sheep, and the cattle, I even had to sell the sheepdog which was quite heartbreaking but the sheepdog was a Kelpie sheepdog - you couldn't keep it as a pet, it wanted to work every day.

"It is the best and the worst job in the world, you can work all year for a pittance. The supermarkets were controlling the prices, and giving us less for our product than what it cost to produce it. I felt I couldn't keep farming like that intensively, so I moved away from the animals after my dad passed away. I thought Christmas trees was a bit more environmentally friendly and easier on myself."

Under Mr Morgan's vision, the farm has gone from strength to strength, and now grows over 500,000 Christmas trees. Known as Gower Fresh Christmas Trees, it has become Wales’ largest Christmas Tree grower. It received the accolade of Grower of the Year Award 2017, and even supplied former Prime Minister Theresa May's Christmas tree which stood proudly outside 10 Downing Street, with Mr Morgan getting to visit and meet her in December 2017.

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Aside from the Christmas tree efforts, it is home to the largest reindeer herd in Wales, with around 40 of the animals at the farm which are "very much part of the family" and roam freely and happily in their 20 plus acres. Halloween is also a popular time at the farm, with its annual pumpkin patch event where families can turn up and pick their own pumpkins, with more than 30,000 sold this year alone.

The farm also grows pumpkins for Halloween and sold 30,000 of them this year
Rob Morgan pictured with his young son Lloyd, who could take over the running of the farm one day

"I describe the farm as a bit of a monster to be honest!" Mr Morgan said.

"I never thought it would be as popular. I just love seeing families, children having a great day out. All the money we make we invest back into the business. I'm like a child at Christmas when I can plan the next Christmas grotto or the next pumpkins event, or the next light show in the field. We've got Christmas trees going up to London, to the north of England, it's a lot of work but it is great to see people enjoying. I remember when I was young walking with my mum and finding these rubbish trees and I thought, I would like for other people to experience this on a bigger and better scale.

"We've got great ideas with the lavender and sunflowers, pumpkins, so it's a great place to be in terms of work. All I'm doing is passing through, and hopefully pass it onto my son, Lloyd, in a better situation and keep the Morgan name that goes back five generations at the farm.

"My son is 11, I'm not sure which direction he's going to go in life. He comes up with ideas himself like lavender bunches from the lavender fields, so it's nice to see. He's shown interest, but I'm not going to push him, my dad never pushed me, it is up to him.

"We're at the size we need to be at the farm. I don't plan to grow it any more, I just want to fine tune what we're doing and make it a bit better. You've got the big thing next year of the lavender fields, we've got 20,000 lavender plants. I'm not sure what my dad would think of me growing flowers looking back! I think he and the Morgans before that would have accepted we have had to change and move with the times. As on Gower, farming is dying. We need to either help the farmers or just support them and give them opportunities to improve the business whether that be camping, camp sites or whatever, because the average age of a farmer is about 59 and there's no inspiration for youngsters to go into farming these days.

"It's great looking at the success of the farm, but on the other hand when your mum and dad aren't there, some days you wholeheartedly still miss them. It's just a big gap.

"The passing of my father has given me so much strength to achieve things to make him proud, and to get things done. He will drive me until the day I die. Every day he is missed, but every day I am trying to make him proud."

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