Farming has been a feature of the island since earliest times. It is believed that some of the mediaeval remains are those of buildings used for agricultural purpose.
The Bardsey Island Farm is managed on behalf of the Trust by the RSPB. A management plan for the island is agreed with Natural Resources Wales, the Welsh Government’s advisory body for nature conservation who also contribute financially to the farming operation. Without this financial support farming would not be possible on the island. The RSPB implement the management plan and ensure that the nature conservation features of the island are maintained.
Progress is carefully monitored by both RSPB and the Bardsey Bird and Field Observatory. It is important to monitor any changes on the island. The disappearance of the rabbit population in 1996 for example meant that increased grazing was required to preserve the habitats. Oats, turnips and swedes - winter feed for livestock - encourage arable weeds and provide cover and food for migrant and resident birds. A minimum amount of fertilizer is used and wide field margins are left.
Fishing remains important. The waters around the island are regularly fished for lobster and crab which are sold on the mainland.
Afal Enlli (the Bardsey Apple)
One of the plants that appears to be unique to Bardsey is the apple tree that grows at the side of Plas Bach. In September 2000, a birdwatcher staying at Cristin was using apples to lure birds. A chance conversation between the birdwatcher and another visitor, Mr Ian Sturrock, led to an exciting discovery. Mr Sturrock, an expert on fruit trees, discovered that the apples were coming from a gnarled and twisted tree on the south facing gable end of Plas Bach. Although enquiries amongst the island residents suggested that these apples had been enjoyed by generations of islanders, no one knew what kind of apples they were save that the pink, lemon–scented fruit with its juicy and refreshing taste were possibly the only survivors from an orchard tended on the site by monks over 1,000 years ago.
“I didn’t recognise it, so I took it to the experts on British apple varieties - Brogdale Horticultural Trust in Kent” said Mr Sturrock.
There the apples were examined by Dr Joan Morgan, who declared it the world’s rarest apple, describing the apple as boldly striped in pink over cream, ribbed and crowned.