The Orignial Home of UK Giant Vegetable Growing at the Mill Tavern public House, Cwmbran, South Wales. Sadlythe pub has now been demolished
At the start of the growing season in 1996, our father sadly passed away. Our father, Mike Fortey was instrumental in developing the art of giant vegetable growing and developing the giant vegetable movement in the UK. We helped our father from a young age via his encouragement and expertise. He encouraged us to have our own patch in the garden and we used to compete against him. He taught us how to grow/maintain a variety of flowers and vegetables. He passed his considerable knowledge down to us.
Mike Fortey was the founder of the British National Pumpkin Championships in the 1980's. A chat with a few fellow pub goer, George Williams led to the beginning of the Giant vegetable competitions in a local pub called the Mill Tavern situated in Cwmbran, South Wales.
Eventually after a few years, as the show grew in popularity and the pumpkins got bigger and couldn't fit through the pub doors, the show moved on to a bigger venue, the Cwmbran Workingman's club. This show was a huge success and attracted exhibitors from all parts of the UK. This show had double doors so pumpkins could be taken in easily. Weight of pumpkins at that time were a mere 100-200lb. They now reach in excess of 1600lb
Bernard Lavery then continued the Giant Vegetables movement and held the shows in Cardiff moving onto Alton towers and then Norfolk where TV productions like Big Breakfast and Record Breakers were filmed. This is where giant vegetable shows grew in popularity and TV and media interest developed.
Record Breakers filming 1997 - Spalding, Lincolnshire
In 1996, we took over his legacy and continued to grow the Giant Vegetables he had developed over the many years of growing. This encouragement came from our fathers very close friend, Ian Neale and our mother. We have grown far bigger veg than our dad could have ever imagined. We continue to compete at a very high level and are considered as one of the top growers in the UK and probably the world
We have appeared on a number of TV programmes including Gardeners World and Celebrity Cooking the Books for Channel 5. Our most momentous achievement was winning the Great British Village Show in 2007 for the UK's Heaviest Marrow. The final of the TV programme was hosted by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at their home at Highgrove and we had the privilege of being presented with a specially commissioned maple bowl.
Copyright - Paul Burns Photography
Below are pictures from our family's achievements and TV appearances over the years
Mum receiving her award from Monty Don
Mum with Tommy Walsh and Kirsty King collecting another award
Great British Village Show - James Martin 2007
One Show - 2007 Filming with Christine Walkden
Snoop Dogg Backstage Cardiff October 2011
Alan Titchmarsh "50 Best Backyard Gardens" January 2015
As a family we continue to hold the UK record for the largest sunflower head measuring 67" in circumference. This was achieved by Kevin's son, Jamie at the Malvern Autumn Show, September 2011. In addition in 2010 we also broke the UK record for the Heaviest Marrow weighing a colossal 12stone 3 pounds / 171lb
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