LSA Fellow’s initial meeting

7th April 2020

It was at the AHDB Smarthort event due to be held on the 31st March that the new cohort of LSA Fellows were due to meet for the first time. The 6 new Fellows were also due to meet their 2019 counterparts, the industry steering group and the LSA Trustees.

 With the current covid-19 situation, responsibly, the event was cancelled.

The Fellows didn’t let that stop them. They all jumped on a conference call and got to know each other. They all shared their backgrounds, their jobs and how the corona virus is affecting them.

Libby Rowland a 2019 Fellow who works for Vitacress Herbs kicked off the conversation; she had just done her Viva for her PhD! Well done Libby! During 2019 in the Fellowship she said it had been a great asset to her role, meeting lots of people in different parts of the industry. Libby said positively that there are always opportunities in the fresh produce sector.

George Boreham, a 2020 Fellow works for Edward Vinson Nurseries as a Nursery Manager. Currently his work involves the breeding of strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. George is doing push ups and star jumps to stay active during covid-19 lock down.

The LSA’s Northern Ireland representative, Lucille Gilpin introduced herself to the new Fellows and her 2019 cohort, She promised that she will talk slowly so that everyone could understand her. Within her role she is assisting in QA in the factory, another string to her bow. Although her social life has taken a dive, she is keeping entertained, she has taken up crochet – making her Granny proud.

A new recruit, Vicky Smith from Glinwell PLC said Hello to the group next. She isn’t from a food production background but spent a summer working on an arable farm and got the bug. Her role as technical manager always keeps her busy.

Virginia Colguhourn Conzalez introduced herself to the Fellows. She is half Spanish, but most people think her accent sounds South African.  She has been in the UK for 7 years after studying Forestry and Nursery management in Spain. Virginia works for Allensmore Nuseries as a grower supervisor. She has been in isolation for 2 weeks and is feeling disconnected and a little weird. She is keeping busy doing her dissertation for her Masters in Horticulture with the RHS.

Rebecca Smith, a first year Fellow and a Fellow herb producer to Libby. Rebecca works for Valley Produce as a technical manager- managing both the field and the pack house. A big challenge for the Company will be labour availability for the season. Rebecca has had a week off with her Toddler, so sha cannot get bored.

Charles Croft, a 2019 Fellow introduced himself to the group. Charles is a Grower Manager for APS. During the Scheme he has got a promotion and he is now the Grower Manager for an APS nursery in the North East, great work Charles. Within his work it is business as usual, within the tomato industry there are already high levels of a preventative hygiene measures in place. 

Val Kiss a 2020 Fellow also works for APS. She is originally from Hungary but has been in the UK for 12 years. Within her role as a Trainee Grower Manager she looks after numerous tomato varieties, controlling climate and water management on the site. Whilst working for APS she is doing a Crop Technician apprenticeship at Reasheath college

The last Fellow on the call was Jason Daff, a 2019 Fellow who works for the University of York as a Manager Horticulture Facilities in the Department of Biology. Jason brings the “hands on” horticultural knowledge to the research.

Jason also works as part of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture, ensuring that research projects are commercially relevant and the results are shared with the industry. He shared that the Fellowship has been great to keep in touch with people within the industry.

Geoffrey Richards and Paul Hadley who are both LSA Trustees thanked all the Fellows for continuing to meet despite the pandemic. They both expressed how pleased they were with the first year Fellows and their activities and were very exited to meet the 2020 Fellows in person.

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