Tomnah’a Market Garden wins second NEWBIE Award for Innovative New Entrants

Tomnah’a Market Garden, a community-focused enterprise located at Comrie Croft in Perthshire, has been declared the winner of the NEWBIE UK award for New Entrant Farm Business of the Year for 2020.

Tomnah’a is run by Cristy Gilbert, Sam Parry and Judith McGowan and some dedicated volunteers and sells fruit, veg and flowers directly to customers through a community supported agriculture scheme as well as through online food hubs.

They also offer training to volunteers in the hope that they too will set up their own market gardens in the future.

The European Commission-funded NEWBIE project offered the award to new entrants in eight European countries including the UK, as part of a suite of opportunities aiming to help new farmers, crofters and small-holders network and develop successful businesses.

Tomnah’a Market Garden will receive €500 towards the cost of training or an international visit, as well as an award plaque, farm video, and opportunity to participate in a European new entrant conference with other award winners.

‘We are delighted with the news’

The team at Tomnah’a 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.”

Aweside Farm (England), Matthew Adams (Northern Ireland), and Teleri Fielden (Wales) were also shortlisted as exemplary innovative new entrants.

Members of the NEBWIE UK Steering group, representing farming interests across the UK, reviewed the shortlisted applications and selected the winner.

‘The quality of the candidates was superb’

John McCallister, Land Mobility Manager, Northern Ireland, noted: “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.”

Rachel Creaney, a researcher with the NEWBIE project at the James Hutton Institute, added:

The calibre of shortlisted nominees this year was outstanding, and deciding a winner was extremely difficult for our panel.

“However, Tomnah’a are a great example of a new entrant that are using their farming and floristry skills, not just for community and biodiversity benefits, but also to create a viable and innovative business model.”