Two Powys farmers have been recognised for their outstanding horticulture work at a recent award ceremony.

Marie Pope from Brecon was the joint winner of this year’s Farming Connect Horticulture Award after establishing her own market garden.

Two years ago, Marie achieved her long-term ambition of establishing the garden after renting a small area of land from a local farmer.

The garden – Alfie Dan’s – is named after her grandfather, a keen horticulturalist who passed on to her his knowledge and love of growing vegetables.

“We have three sites at the moment. We grow veg for the local community in the local area and we do veg boxes. We sell veg in an honesty stall and we’ll also be at Brecon Farmers Market once a month from February, March,” said Marie.

“I’m looking to do RHS level 2 and 3 home study in the future, just to bring up my knowledge on plants, development that sort of thing.”

Inspired by her early success, Marie has already taken on additional plots of land enabling her to increase production and the scale of her business, which now runs to four acres.  She is also starting organic conversion.  

The judges said that Marie’s love of horticulture, and her determination to develop and grow her already successful enterprise makes her a worthy joint winner. 

This was not the only success for Powys in this category. Andrew Gethin who works as a partner at the family-run arable, cattle and pig farm near Newtown but a  “flourishing diversified horticulture enterprise is also a key focus for Andrew”. 

The family began with a ‘pick your own’ pumpkin field, grow sunflowers and have a flower field too.

Andrew studied agriculture and agri-mechanics at his local college but since then, has been learning all he can about horticulture. 

“We’ve looked at different types of diversification over the years and then I had a chance, looking through Farming Connect and there was a study visit up to Cae Derw in Ruthin and I quite like how it worked and what they did,” said Andrew.

“We really like doing the horticulture side so we’re just hoping to carry it on, change it up a little bit evert year, I think that’s something you’ve got to keep trying to do.”

A keen fan of the Farming Connect horticulture programme, he has benefited hugely from peer-to-peer learning through being part of a ‘Grower Network’ group and has been on numerous study visits. 

The judges were impressed by Andrew’s determination “to find effective solutions to dealing with changing weather patterns and weed control”. 

Already looking at new crops to ‘stay ahead’ of the competition and retain the interest of the venture’s loyal and expanding customer base, the judges were impressed by Andrew’s “ongoing commitment to learning”.