A Perthshire market garden which sells fruit, vegetables and flowers direct to local customers has come top in the UK’s new entrant farm business of the year award.
Tomnah’a Market Garden, a community-focused enterprise based at Comrie Croft, won the European Commission-funded Newbie UK title. Their prize includes €500 towards the cost of training or an international visit.
Tomnah’a is run by Cristy Gilbert, Sam Parry and Judith McGowan with help from dedicated volunteers.
They market cut flowers, eggs from free-range hens, vegetables, herbs and berries through a community-supported agriculture scheme as well as through online food hubs.
They also offer training to encourage volunteers to establish their own market gardens.
The Tomnah’a team said: “We are delighted with the news and hope it will help share our story of what is possible on a small piece of land and encourage others to do the same.
“We really need new farmers providing produce directly to make our food system more secure.”
Tomnah’a run a veg box scheme between June and December and their produce can also be found at The Comrie Croft farm shop, The Tea Garden at Comrie Croft, Hansens Kitchen in Comrie and other local restaurants.
Rachel Creaney, a researcher with the Newbie project at the James Hutton Institute, described Tomnah’a as a great example of new entrants who are using their farming and floristry skills, not just for community and biodiversity benefits, but also to create a viable and innovative business model.
One of the judges, John McCallister from Northern Ireland, said: “I felt very strongly that the quality of the candidates was superb.
“For them all to be fulfilling a long-held ambition despite many challenges, not least the huge capital costs in entering agriculture, I thought was so encouraging to see.
“They represent the very best qualities and determination needed to break into agriculture and the new blood, new ideas and new generation that our industry needs.”