The National Botanic Garden of Wales is embarking on a five-year project to champion Welsh horticulture, protect wildlife and extol the virtues of growing plants for food, fun, health and well-being.
Growing the Future is a pan-Wales programme which will see seven new jobs created at the Botanic Garden in Carmarthenshire.
The project has received £2.3 million of funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It follows on from the Botanic Garden’s successful Growing the Future pilot scheme.
Leading the project is the Botanic Garden’s Head of Science, Dr Natasha de Vere. She said: “This new project is fantastic news for the Garden, for horticulture and for Wales.
“Gardens and gardening are part of our way of life and have an incredible amount to offer in terms of health and fitness, as wildlife habitats and as places to secure our food supply. Growing the Future will look at all of these aspects with a special focus on training and engagement.”
Dr de Vere explained that the courses and special events planned to highlight these areas will also provide a fabulous showcase for the huge range and high quality of Welsh horticultural produce – from specialist nurseries producing unique plants and flowers, to commercial growers providing the finest fruit and vegetables.
“Shining a spotlight on all the great work going on and our fabulous Welsh-grown produce is an important part of the project, and we will also be looking to the future and how we can harness the latest science and technology for a sustainable, future-proof sector.”
“One of the key elements will be to harness the cutting-edge research into helping save pollinators in Wales currently being carried out by the Garden’s science team,” said Dr de Vere.
Along with a broad range of training courses for adults and children from right across Wales, the project also includes events such as festivals, conferences, shows and family activities.
The Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said: “This exciting new project Growing the Future will provide training and engagement to support the value of gardens for growing food, keeping fit and helping the environment by showcasing the diversity and quality of Welsh horticultural produce.”
National Botanic Garden of Wales director, Huw Francis said: “We are all very excited about Growing the Future. The ambition is to promote the value of gardens for growing food, keeping fit and helping the environment, championing Welsh produce and producers, and securing the future of the sector.”
The Growing the Future pilot, which ran between 2012 to 2015, involved more than 5,000 people being trained in planting, sowing and growing. The new Growing the Future project builds on this work and aims to engage with more than 100,000 people over the five years of the project.