Passing on horticulture skills, from mother to daughter…
It is perhaps no surprise that Mercedes Thomas is running her own horticulture business when she learnt those skills at her mother’s knee. Her first summer job in her mum’s landscaping business was filling pots with compost; once she had mastered that, she was then allowed to plant plugs in the pots; and then she graduated on to filling hanging baskets.
Fast forward to 2013, and Mercedes was ready to head back to the world of horticulture when she bought Powys based nursery business, Honey Brook following a career in the army.
Mercedes has only recently become aware of the wide range of support available to Wales’ commercial horticulture businesses through Tyfu Cymru and her first “experience” with Tyfu Cymru has been at the recent Smallholding and Countryside Festival in Llanelwedd. Mercedes explains:
“We had participated in the Festival back in 2014, but, to be honest, it wasn’t very successful for us. However, when we heard about Tyfu Cymru’s plans for the Growers Market and that another grower had unexpectedly dropped out, we jumped at the chance to have a stall as part of the Growers Market, even though we only had a couple of days to make it happen. Not only did we have a really successful trading weekend, but I got to meet other growers and find out about the funded training which is available through Tyfu Cymru”.
So what’s next for Honey Brook? Mercedes is keen to build on the success that she’s had with trade customers such as providing hanging baskets for Caerphilly County Borough Council. And word of mouth recommendations can come from unexpected quarters. “We have been looking after the beds around the Powys building on the Royal Welsh Showground – and that contact came from a connection that our web designer had. So you never know who can help you with a contact who can make things happen.” Mercedes has also been busy experimenting with taking her own cuttings and she and her partner, Geraint, are planning to diversify into soft fruits. She is also in job creation mode, having just taken on a part-time gardener to help her growing business. As a self-trained horticulturist, the training and skills development offered by Tyfu Cymru is of particular interest to Mercedes who had been frustrated by the difficulty she encountered in the past in finding the right training, in the right location, at the right time for her. She has already booked on the Floral Photography workshop which has been fully funded by Tyfu Cymru. In summing up her experience with Tyfu Cymru, Mercedes commented,
“Taking part in the Growers Market was a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend the Tyfu Cymru project to other growers. Its brilliant being able to access training and also meet other growers and share experiences.”
Mother to son….
And so the family tradition continues, with Mercedes’ mum, sisters and partner all playing a part in Honey Brook’s success, and the latest edition to the family, Flynn, who at just 11 weeks old was the youngest member of this green-fingered family team to take part in the Growers Market!