Celebrating horticulture at home – Open vegetable meeting

Guest speakers (left to right): David Brown (UFU deputy president), Thomas Gilpin, Perry Donaldson, Andrew Herron, Adrian Magowan (UFU vegetable chairman) and Martin Hamilton
Guest speakers (left to right): David Brown (UFU deputy president), Thomas Gilpin, Perry Donaldson, Andrew Herron, Adrian Magowan (UFU vegetable chairman) and Martin Hamilton

The Ulster Farmers’ Union held their second open vegetable meeting on Tuesday 1st October in the prestigious setting of Hillsborough Castle.

With over 60 delegates in attendance ranging from growers, processors, packers, government officials and special guests, a great evening of discussion and reminiscing was had “Celebrating horticulture at home”.

Left to right, David Brown (UFU deputy president), Denise Kelso (chair RUAS horticulture committee), Paul Mooney (CAFRE head of horticulture), Hamilton Loney (vice chair Horticulture Forum NI), Roy Lyttle (vice chair UFU vegetable committee), Claire Woods (garden manager Hillsborough Castle at Historic Royal Palaces), Wesley Aston (UFU CEO) and Norman Fulton (DAERA deputy secretary food and farming)

Left to right, David Brown (UFU deputy president), Denise Kelso (chair RUAS horticulture committee), Paul Mooney (CAFRE head of horticulture), Hamilton Loney (vice chair Horticulture Forum NI), Roy Lyttle (vice chair UFU vegetable committee), Claire Woods (garden manager Hillsborough Castle at Historic Royal Palaces), Wesley Aston (UFU CEO) and Norman Fulton (DAERA deputy secretary food and farming)

UFU deputy president David Brown said: “The evening was set in the context of recognition and a deserving celebration for those ambassadors who have shaped our horticulture industry as we know it today. It provided the opportunity for all in the vegetable supply chain to get together and celebrate local home grown produce and the flavoursome delights that our industry produce.”

Delegates were greeted with a guided tour around the beautiful four-acre horticultural Walled Garden, dating back to the 18th century. Claire Woods, gardens manager at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens provided guests with the opportunity to view the homegrown fruit, vegetables and flowers in the Walled Garden, sharing the history on how the Walled Garden has been restored and re-presented to create the beautiful working and productive garden that it is today.

Guests were treated to sampling the homegrown delights from the Walled Garden ranging from garden greens to Hillsborough rhubarb and pear, as Yellow Door provided a delicious dinner, highlighting the flavoursome produce the local agri-industry produce.

Guest speakers shared their passion, experiences and vision for a vibrant horticulture future, sharing with all delegates the positive and indeed the level of determination needed to succeed within the horticulture sector. The evening was an opportunity to ask questions, learn and be part of this very timely and much needed discussion.

Claire Woods (Gardens Manager at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens) provided guests with the opportunity to view the homegrown fruit, vegetables and flowers in the Walled Garden

Claire Woods (Gardens Manager at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens) provided guests with the opportunity to view the homegrown fruit, vegetables and flowers in the Walled Garden

Martin Hamilton, Perry Donaldson, Thomas Gilpin and Andrew Herron shared their thoughts about the future for horticulture, and how to help the industry navigate a new roadmap with associated navigational tools required for the future.

“A ‘take home message’ of the evening was to take ownership of the future, be positive and innovative and move in harmony with one united voice. We must be informed and knowledgeable, reinstating the true value and worth of horticulture to society and government going forward, highlighting the importance of the local home-grown flavoursome produce,” said Mr Brown.