Why Gary would be an effective mentor
- Gary was raised on a mixed family farm in Pembrokeshire but left to pursue a career in IT, working in this field from 1982 to 2010. Alongside this, he studied horticulture part time in 2004 to 2005, with a view of returning to the farm. Gary returned to work full time on the farm in 2010.
- Returning to the family farm after a long period of working in a different industry proved challenging yet rewarding and, in 2011, Gary made the decision to switch to horticultural production, growing a range of seasonal produce. He had to learn about growing horticultural crops on a field scale and also new skills for running the business such as bookkeeping and raising capital. With firsthand experience of both growing crops and running his own business, Gary can offer support and guidance to those starting out as well as more experienced horticulturalists looking to add value.
- Gary started with wholesale soft fruit production but diversified with a Pick Your Own enterprise in 2013 where customers can visit the farm to pick fresh strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries. The Pumpkin Patch followed in 2014 and is open during October every year. It has proved to be very popular and has grown significantly since first opening. The farm now has more than 5,000 followers on social media which has helped attract new customers and interest.
- They are also in the third year of developing a cut flower enterprise, growing a wide range of annual and perennial flowers for wholesale and direct sales.
- Gary puts strong emphasis on adding value and has fully embraced the benefits of branding; marketing and direct sales, working with several organisations such as Farming Connect, Cywain, Horticulture Wales, WRAP Cymru, Food Centre Wales, ADAS, Business Wales and many others. Routes to market include direct sales, local retailers, larger wholesalers and e-commerce. He is open minded to new possibilities and tries to make the most of any support available. The business has benefited from technical and business advice funded through Farming Connects advisory service.
- Recently awarded Welsh Government RBIS (Food) grant for an on-farm production facility to add value and reduce waste for primary produce by creating a high value produce.
- Gary feels that his years away from farming have enabled him to see other ways of circumventing potential problems and applying a fresh approach whilst still being realistic in achieving a goal.
Current farm business
- 60-acre horticulture farm
- 3-acre pumpkin patch with a variety of pumpkins grown annually
- 3-acre PYO Soft Fruit enterprise growing strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries
- 2.5-acre top fruit orchard planted in 2017 for cider production
- 10-acre flower enterprise growing daffodils for wholesale and e-commerce as well as the new cut flower meadow
- New beekeeping enterprise
- 4,000 tree native woodland
- E-commerce website
Qualifications/ achievements/ experience
- 1982-2010: 28 years’ experience in the I.T. industry
- 2004-2005: Horticulture Course, Pembrokeshire College
- Joint winners of the Horticulture Wales ‘Collaboration in Business Award’ for working with other small farms to supply daffodils to major retailers
- Experience of setting up a new farming enterprise
TOP TIPS FOR BUSINESS SUCCESS
“Persistence, enthusiasm and a desire to succeed will get you far in both business and life.”
“Always keep an open mind to new possibilities.”
“Do your homework!”