15 May 2023
Are you an established horticulturalist, or one of Wales’ many small-scale niche commercial growers? Or maybe you are a land-owner looking for a sustainable new diversification opportunity? If you can answer yes to any of these questions and you plan to visit this year’s Smallholding & Countryside Festival at the Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd (May 20 & 21), visit Farming Connect to find out what support is available to you. And if you’re not already registered with Farming Connect, you can do that too!
Located in the large glass-fronted ‘members’ building, adjacent to the festival main entrance, Farming Connect is this year reaching out to not only farmers but to all established commercial horticultural growers and those considering entering this rapidly expanding sector.
The Director of Lantra Wales, Kevin Thomas, explains that the horticulture programme - ‘Growing for growth’ - is one of Farming Connect’s newest services. Launched last month as an important additional service within the new Farming Connect programme, which is funded by the Welsh Government, all support, guidance and training services will continue to be delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales.
“Commercial horticulture is one of the UK’s fastest growing niche industries with experts already forecasting as much as a 25% increase in new business over the next few years.
“Many shoppers who got into a new routine of ‘buying local’ during the pandemic have carried on supporting farm shops and other local producers and this shift in buying patterns, together with today’s environmentally-conscious consumers determined to seek out ‘grown’ rather than ‘flown’ produce imported from other countries, has created a significant increase in demand.”
Farming Connect’s ‘Growing for growth’ programme will provide support for a huge range of growers and producers offering fruits, fruit trees including heritage types, flowers, vegetables, salad produce, herbs and spices, non-edibles, ornamentals, willow, pumpkins and grapevines, through to Christmas trees and many more exciting options.
At the festival, twelve trade stand exhibitors will be showcasing what they grow and together with a number of invited ‘horti’ experts who will be available throughout the event, this could provide the perfect opportunity to learn about either setting up or expanding an existing horticulture enterprise, from the first ‘seed of an idea’ through to seeing your plans come to fruition with both your produce and bank balance looking healthy!
“Researching what to grow, planting, nurturing, pruning, feeding and grafting are all part and parcel of what it takes to run a successful horticulture enterprise in Wales and these are all areas you can learn about with our support,” said Mr. Thomas.
The Farming Connect team will be on hand to promote all elements of the service, including the training and e-learning provision, all of which are either subsidised by up to 80% or fully funded. This will be relevant to all those wanting to strengthen either practical or technical skills, or to improve their knowledge of business, financial and marketing topics including social media.
For further information on Farming Connect and its comprehensive range of support, guidance and training services or to check eligibility criteria, click here or contact your local Farming Connect development officer.
Smallholding & Countryside Festival - Farming Connect exhibitors include:
- West Wales Willows will be showcasing some of their range of 260 varieties of Salix (Willows)
- Talking about its uses and providing a demonstration of how to weave a small plant support
- A great place to learn, and possibly buy some potted willows or baskets
- Offers a wide range of willow weaving workshops from their base in Carmarthenshire
- Offers online supplies of living cuttings and rods to grow your own willow for basket weaving, short rotation coppicing as fuel for your woodburner, early nectar for bees, ornamental uses and living structures such as arches, domes and tunnels.
- Come and see the wonderful P&J Plants for lots of practical knowledge when it comes to Carnivorous plants
- Offering a selection of Sarracena, Venus Fly Traps, Sundews and Butterworts
- Find mature, potted, and labelled plants
- If you are a prospective student or an have an interest in horticulture, come and learn about the exciting developments in the Horticulture Department across Neath, Brecon & Newtown colleges
- Learn about opportunities in horticultural careers
- See what horticulture courses are available through NPTC covering commercial production of fruit, vegetables, flowers, and ornamental plants and an additional focus on the design, establishment, and maintenance of our parks, gardens, sports grounds, and managed landscapes
- Selling plants all grown by NPTC students
- Unique stall to view a range of both indoor and outdoor bonsai in various stages of development, all of which will be able to purchase.
- Talk to Darren about the Bonsai training he provides in Powys (Llanbister, Llandrindod Wells), and other Bonsai clubs around the country.
- Make sure to stop by throughout the weekend as he works on Bonsai Styling right in front of your eyes!
- Display made up of seasonal British flowers, giving you the chance to buy some beautiful bouquets.
- Learn about what Flowers From The Farm is, and what they aim to do across Wales, and further afield.
- Stand is being led by Rhiannon Clarke of Blue Hill Flora (Pontardawe, South Wales), who runs the Welsh Flowers from the Farm group – promoting premium quality, seasonal cut flowers with sustainability at its heart.
- Joining us will be another superb local horticulture business – A flower shop in the heart of Builth Wells offering beautiful blooms, houseplants, pots and other flower themed gifts.
- Talk to Vicki about her homegrown seasonal flowers and the locally sourced flowers available from May to October – taking pride in creating beautiful gift bouquets and bespoke flower arrangements
- A market garden growing vegetables and fruit, based on 1 acre from our field to your fork.
- Promoting seasonal and locally produced veg (Brecon area) grown under organic principles
- Promoting veg box service and what they have to offer, including fresh veg to buy over the weekend
- Selling wildflowers and cultivated varieties of plants that are beneficial to wildlife
- Everything grown and sold is chemical and peat free
- From Llanwrthwl, Rhayader
- Producing traditional cider and perry in their heritage orchards just outside of Brecon but looking to focus on heritage herbs
- Sharing information about native herbs and how to cook with them – Also selling them
- How to look after apple trees and selling apple tree cuttings
- Living Simply Lavender is a micro business distilling therapeutic Lavender hydrosol products on-site in West Wales.
- Applying decades of family knowledge of Lavender botanicals to bring high-quality products to customers
- Selling a variety of lavender-based products
- Explaining how to grow and care for lavender
- Growing and selling Welsh heritage apple trees (potted)
- All trees are 1 years old, grafted by Gareth & Nicky in Aberystwyth
- Sharing information about Welsh apple varieties and the history of orchards & cider making in Wales
- Offering orchard planning advice, plus advice on grafting and pruning
Farming Connect Stand
- Farming Connect Development Officers will be located in the New Members Centre along side the Growers' Market. They will be there to answer any enquiries visitors may have.