THE milder, dryer weather conditions of south west Wales, along with some key support from Farming Connect has proved a winning combination for a market garden.

Experienced retailer and grower Adam York and his partner Lesley Bryson, who previously ran a market garden business in Manchester, set up Glebelands Market Garden at a six-acre site at St Dogmaels in 2010.

They now have more than 5,000 square foot of protected growing space under poly-tunnels and a successful business providing fresh produce to the local population, businesses and the many tourists who pass the couple’s busy roadside business.

“Weconsidered various locations, but finally settled on this six-acre site because we hoped that the milder coastal conditions would significantly extend the growing season and our cropping period,” said Adam.

“We were also attracted by its proximity to a market town and the potential for customers who would be keen to buy fresh, locally grown produce rather than supermarket imports.”

Adam describes Wales as being ‘ahead of the game’ when it comes to promoting food products and encouraging farmers to diversify into horticulture and he praised the Welsh Government for identifying the potential for this important new growth area.

“The advice we received through attending a Farming Connect planning surgery was invaluable and prepared us really well on TAN 6 (the Welsh Government’s Technical Advisory Note for planners) before we sought planning permission from the local planning authority,”

added Adam.

Like all Welsh growers, Adam and Lesley were affected by this summer’s high rainfall, which reduced their outdoor crop output, but they are optimistic about the future of the business, and recently had planning permission to build a new timber shop on the site, replacing their current ‘market stall’.

“Getting planning permission for protected growing and permission to sell on site was crucial to the success of this enterprise, and the advice we received from the Farming Connect planning surgery was really helpful,” said Adam.

Adam now plans to apply for subsidised training on machinery handling through the Farming Connect Skills Development Programme, as well as business advice through the Whole Farm Plan service.

“Retailers and customers are all now aware of sustainability, and the need to reduce their carbon footprint by supporting local producers.

By selling local produce to local markets, we will be doing our bit to help and we believe that there is huge potential for growth in this market.”