Thursday, 19 August 2021
Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm, Unit 60, Honeyborough Industrial Estate, SA73 1SE
Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm, based near Neyland in Pembrokeshire grow a wide variety of chillies, both for processing into their own products such as sauces and for other producers.
The business started in 2017 with Owen and Michelle Rosser growing chillies in a small green house in their back garden but they soon realised there was a far bigger market out there and needed to up their game.
They now produce over 2.5 tonnes of chillies a year, in addition to crops specifically grown for wholesale customers and for other commercial food producers. Currently they have five large poly tunnels and have plans to grow the business further both to increase of crop output and to increase their range of added value chilli products.
‘At the start of our business journey neither Michelle nor myself had a horticultural background so this is where Tyfu Cymru stepped in….’ Owen Rosser, Pembrokeshire Chilli Farm, July 2021
How did you hear about Tyfu Cymru?
We had a few issues in the early days with our plants – blight had set in and I had a chance meeting at the Pembrokeshire County Show with a chap called Huw Thomas, Managing Director of Puffin produce who, incidentally, I went to school with. I explained we were having a few issues with our plants and he recommended Tyfu Cymru to provide funded specialist advice and training.
What support have you received?
Through the programme, we have been on several funded field visits to soft fruits growers both locally and on the Gower and although not directly connected with Chilli growing, they were great for picking up information related to growing in general. We also had the chance to meet experts and pick their brains about issues we were having, on a one to one basis.
There have also been many online workshops which we have enjoyed and we’re currently taking part in the Horticulture Leaders Forum which is proving useful; we can see the potential of where we can take the business and how we can develop, which is incredibly useful when you are so used to being hands on day to day. The first masterclass was excellent and really inspiring. Andrew Burgess, director and owner of Produce World highlighted potential in the sector and the steps they took to grow to a multi million pound business.
Through the online workshops we have gained valuable insight into Integrated Pest Disease Management (IPDM) systems and how they work. Especially relevant to us was the control of aphids and spider mite. I have recently attended a webinar on pests and this was useful to see what we can do to prevent pests in crops - chillies are aphid magnets and I learned so much on biological pest control which has already been applied in to the crops.
Through 100% funded Tyfu Cymru training support, we recently had a one to one visit from an expert from ADAS. This was brilliant, he walked our crop, took samples of plants that had leaf issues, advised on water testing and Ph values, then a few days later we had an email outlining what we had discussed and valuable links to sites that could offer further help and advice.
What have you found most useful?
The most useful thing about the training has been the transferable information; it doesn’t have to be about chillies. We have learned a huge amount about irrigation and irrigation systems, feed, where to buy kit and the opportunity to network with other growers has been a fantastic opportunity too.
The training and support is easy and quick to access and because of this, issues can be identified and dealt with quickly with the support from qualified experts.
What is the result of the TC support and impact on your business - especially the growing side?
So, this year we have a brief IPDM program, where we are using biological controls to reduce pests therefore increasing our yield. Guy from ADAS has advised us on what to use and where to get them. Most importantly, we feel the support has given us the confidence to move forward, knowing there is a wealth of experience and help that is only a phone call or email away.
Next steps for the business include going through SALSA accreditation, which will unlock doors with wholesalers and suppliers. In terms of growing, next year we will consolidate learning and growing, increase crops and outputs, investigate expansion for more poly tunnels and we’re always scanning to see what other crops could be grown that could add value to our existing business.
Is there anything you been have been able to do, that you might not have been possible without TC training/support?
All the above really!
As a fairly new business, it would have been a challenge to find the commercial horticulture experts, and then finance the training. Tyfu Cymru has given us access to a network of experts, other growers and practical training which has enabled the business to develop.
For more information, visit Pembrokeshirechillifarm.com