Sustainable horticulture is the focus of Tomnah’a in Perthshire as they add to the UK market economy.
How and why did you start in business?
We wanted to start an enterprise that focused on sustainable horticulture – producing quality vegetables, fruits and flowers, along with a small flock of high welfare hens for eggs.
We wanted to connect the community to a part of their food production, reduce food and flower miles and promote a method of producing crops that encouraged biodiversity and soil health.
Local and seasonal production is key.
We sell around 80% of what we grow within a 10km radius, with flowers and arrangements for weddings at Comrie Croft, our seasonal veg share scheme and sales to local restaurants and cafes.
Andrew Donaldson from Comrie Croft highlighted an opportunity for a small sustainable farm to set up on one of the fields and we jumped at the chance to work with such an established business which has a great ethos around sustainability and community through access to land.
How did you get where you are today?
Lots of hard work – both from ourselves and other people, friends, family and volunteers.
Who has helped you along the way?
Comrie Croft has been fantastic – from believing in us and giving us the opportunity, assisting with initial planning and getting us up and running with some key infrastructure, to continued advice, collaboration and encouragement.
We have received falso inancial support from the Scottish Rural Development Programme and Business Gateway helped with our initial business plan.
We have a fantastic crew of local volunteers and volunteers from all over the world who have given us so much time, inspiration and dedication.
Community-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz has been a massive help with book-keeping and accounting along with key business guidance and advice.
And of course our loyal customers.
Your biggest mistake?
Taking on too much too soon – like trying to build six polytunnels instead of one or two. Sometimes we made decisions too quickly.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Still being here after three years and growing. Establishing a community of customers, building our profile and creating opportunities for volunteering.
Hopes for the future?
We want to help other similar businesses set up and organise educational activities.
What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
Time management, keeping on top of admin, communicating and marketing effectively, and making time for yourself away from work.
Advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?
Do lots of market research and planning before starting, speak to other people in the area who are doing similar projects and get as much advice as possible.
Start small and build up. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Often the things you think will be hard turn out to be easy and vice-versa, recognise your strengths and weaknesses and look at building capacity to address those areas that you struggle with.