Empowering Welsh Horticulture: Horticulture Wales’ EU-Funded Project Inspires Sustainable Innovation for a Thriving Future

As the EU-funded Horticulture Wales project for the year 2022-2023, driven by Wrexham Glyndwr University, approaches its conclusion, Horticulture Wales expresses gratitude for the invaluable contributions made by its cluster members. Their active engagement has played a crucial role in the project’s resounding success.

Throughout the project, Horticulture Wales actively participated in various high-profile networking events, including the Caerwys Show, Royal Welsh Agricultural Show, Anglesey show, Go Green and Wellbeing weeks, Allotment Forums, and other online events. Visits from cluster members, including Tech Tyfu/Mentor Mon, Flintshare, Angel Feathers, Snowdon Valley Farm, AMRC, Dr Helen Monk, Lecturer David Sprake, and Carolyn Thomas of the Senedd were warmly welcomed.

Horticulture Wales takes immense pride in its collaboration with Wales Heritage Orchard Ltd, which supports the preservation of heritage fruit trees in the Wales Heritage Orchard cluster. The project organised a range of events, such as apple pressing sessions in schools and donations of heritage fruit trees to organisations in Wales. Meetings were held both online and at Aberystwyth University, facilitating valuable collaborations with esteemed organisations like the Marcher Apple Network, National Botanic Garden of Wales, Welsh Perry & Cider Society, and more. These meetings served as vital platforms for knowledge sharing and collective action towards the preservation of heritage fruit trees in Wales.

Promoting well-being and sustainability is a core mission of Horticulture Wales. The project provided valuable knowledge and expertise on shopping locally and actively encouraged community planting through seed giveaways, tree donations, and regular distributions of herbs, plants, and hydroponically grown microgreens from its facility on the Northop campus. Grow Local campaigns were launched to highlight the efforts of members and colleagues such as Mountain Produce, Incredible Edible, Social Farms and Gardens, while providing information to community gardens. Cluster activities were extensively promoted through newsletters, media releases, and social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Over the course of the project, Horticulture Wales extended its support to over 180 cluster members, including producers, growers, community gardens, allotments, schools, restaurants, farm shops, and corporate businesses such as Toyota UK and Moneypenny. Training events covering various topics were organised, including hydroponic how-to guides, vineyard pruning at Woodland Skills Center, mushroom cultivation by Owen Davies at The RealFunGuy Mushrooms, and the ‘Value of Welshness’ conducted by Sophie Colquhoun at Category-Insights.

A notable highlight of the project was the successful completion of studies and trials that provided valuable feedback to members. Collaborating with Will Styles and Cole Whitelaw at Vertikit, Horticulture Wales tested prototypes of their innovative vertical farming equipment. Close collaboration resulted in suggestions and feedback on growing conditions, contributing to the development of ground-breaking technology. These studies and trials have yielded valuable insights for members, enhancing their understanding of produce and specialised techniques while fostering growth and innovation within the horticulture community.

The project also included initiatives like Be You to Blossom, which focuses on promoting the mental health and well-being of children in schools through horticulture and collaboration with Bobbi Cockcroft at Together Creating Communities Wales (TCC Wales) aimed to address local challenges and improve community well-being. As part of this effort, short films exploring well-being, sustainability, the importance of Welsh heritage fruits, and hydroponics were produced. These films featured inspiring individuals such as Lyn Wakefield at Bagillt Community Garden, Ken Matthews at Brymbo Heritage Orchard, and Mark Roberts, the Niche Crop Cluster Support Officer, alongside Warren Priestley of Snowdon Valley Farm and Katharine Wilding of Angel Feathers. Stay tuned for the release of these films in June.

The organisation expresses enthusiasm for continuing the project and invites suggestions from individuals and organisations in Wales for future collaborations aimed at enhancing and addressing current challenges in the industry. Horticulture Wales extends heartfelt gratitude to all cluster members who participated in the project and eagerly anticipates future collaborations.

To stay informed about how Horticulture Wales is supporting the local community follow @Hortwales and to receive updates on the progress of the project, interested parties are encouraged to join the members list by visiting the following link: https://horticulturewales.co.uk/new-member-application/