A GIANT vegetable grower from Cwmbran will be exhibiting a selection of oversized vegetables at the Chelsea Flower Show next week.

Kevin Fortey, and his son Jamie, have joined up with Facebook, which is sponsoring a garden at this year’s show.

The Facebook Garden: Beyond the Screen will celebrate the communities coming together around shared causes and passions, including the 1.5 million people in the UK who are part of gardening groups on Facebook.

Mr Fortey said: “We have a giant cabbage growing in our greenhouse, so we are hoping to take that to Chelsea.

“It will be quite an experience.


“Through Facebook we were approached by a curator, Will Cooper, last year. He challenged us to grow a giant cabbage for an art exhibition.

“Cabbages usually grow between January and September, so we had to come up with a way to grow it out of season.

“We managed to grow one that was 1.8m in diameter.

“The art exhibition saw thousands of people visit – hopefully being a part of that inspired people to start growing giant vegetables.”

Mr Fortey created the ‘Giant Vegetable Community’ group on Facebook five years ago, and it now has almost 4,000 members from across the globe.

He said that being able to utilise social media has created a real community among growers.

South Wales Argus:

(An artist's impression of the Facebook Garden, 'Beyond The Screen'. Picture: Facebook)

“At the time there was no real platform to offer advice or to connect with people all over the world,” he said.

“We are now able to answer people’s questions and offer advice immediately. In the past people would have to use books or try to work things out for themselves.

“I am passionate about using growing giant vegetables to help with rehabilitating people who have had issues with their mental health. I try to encourage people to get out and work in their gardens.

“The group is about growing that community spirit.”

South Wales Argus:

(Kevin Fortey with one of his giant marrows. Picture: Kevin Fortey)

Mr Fortey’s father, Mike, inspired him to start growing giant vegetables.

“In the 1980s my dad started out growing giant veg,” he said. “He passed away in 1996 and then myself and my brother started to grow them.

“It is really rewarding. I am putting into practice what my dad was hoping to create.

“I remember my dad using this big brick of a phone while out in his van to talk to other giant vegetable growers.”

Mr Fortey and his son hold two former world records – one for growing the heaviest chilli pepper in the world – 0.348kg – and growing the world’s longest radish in 2015.

The father and son have also been invited to America later this year to launch a giant sunflower competition.

Mr Fortey said: “In September myself and my son have been invited to National Heirloom Expo, run in collaboration with the School Garden Network and Baker Creek Seed Company at Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California.

“We will be launching a sunflower competition and challenging them to grow a wider sunflower head than us. Jamie currently holds the UK record for growing the widest sunflower head.”