Meet the Fellows

2020 Fellows

Virginia Aurora Colquhoun Gonzalez

Grower Supervisor, Allensmore Nurseries

Virginia studied horticulture and forestry in Spain where she grew up and has been involved in the industry for most of her working life, beginning with fighting fires in the Spanish forest. She finished her studies in 2011 and decided to move back to the UK in 2013 to work in commercial horticulture.

Virginia recently joined Allensmore Nurseries in Hereford as a Supervisor. Prior to this she worked at Wyeplants, Lincolnshire for 3 years. Depending on the time of year she can be found putting together rotas for feeding, spraying, monitoring the health of the ornamental plants, and supervising staff.

“I hope the scheme lets me understand better how the industry works as a whole, to allow me to keep learning of new techniques and technologies. I wish to meet new people, but also to allow me to catch up with more familiar faces in the horticulture trade. My view long term is to be able to help the industry move forward, adapting to changes but also be the change when necessary. To help inspire young people to join us and make them see it can be a highly rewarding industry. All this while aiming for a personal successful career in which I am excited to see where it can take me!”

Vicky Smith

Technical Manager, Glinwell Plc

Vicky works as a Technical Manager at Glinwell plc, a growing and packing business, focusing on the production of both organic and conventional protected edibles. She has been in the role since September 2019 and her role centres around providing support and guidance to our growers on compliance and assurance.

Prior to working at Glinwell Vicky was a Technical Manager at Red Tractor Farm Assurance, responsible for managing both the Combinable Crops & Fresh Produce standards. Through this role she became interested in the horticulture sector. 

“I believe that taking part in the Fellowship scheme will be beneficial for a number of reasons but fundamentally I believe that it will widen my understanding of the sector, enable me to meet and make useful contacts and help to equip me with the skills needed for a future in the industry. Having the opportunity to gain knowledge from industry leaders and organisations will be of great benefit and enable me to gain understanding of current and future research and challenges within both the protected edible sector and the horticulture industry as a whole.”

Richard Nuttall

Crop Protection Manager, Viking Nurseries

Richard studied Countryside Management at Easton College in 2003.  After which he worked as a greenkeeper for 4 years, increasing his skills by studying an NVQ 2 in Turf Management, PA1 & PA6A.

He began working for Viking Nurseries in 2009 initially to assist dispatch, then along side the General Manager. In 2013 he completed the RHS Level 2 in Horticulture and an NVQ 3 in Production Horticulture. Richard moved to Norway to work for Viking’s parent company Fritzøe Planteskole, learning about the production of roses and outdoor shrubs, controlling pests and diseases. In July 2018 Richard moved back to the UK and became the Crop Protection Manager for Viking Nurseries. His day to day tasks include: irrigation and nutritional crop assessment and R&D.

“I think the Fellowship scheme will help me understand my interests at a higher level, develop my knowledge regarding the leadership of the industry, how trade bodies work together and current research. It will also give me the opportunity to share my knowledge with other likeminded people and in turn, learn from them.”

Follow Richard   @ RichardNuttal17

Rebecca Smith

Technical Manager, Valley Produce.

Rebecca is currently Technical Manager at Valley Produce; a herb and Chinese brassica grower and packer in Berkshire.  She has been with Valley Produce for 6 years, the first two as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with the University of Reading developing products from herb waste. Rebecca’s’ day to day responsibilities include: food safety, quality, legality, integrity and compliance with industry and retailer standards.

Prior to working at Valley Produce, Rebecca did a PhD at the University of Nottingham investigating genetic and biochemical traits associated with frozen fruit properties.

“The Fellowship will give me a wider view of the industry through interaction with other Fellows, businesses and organisations and widen the network of people I can call upon for discussion and advice on issues relevant to my company and career.  I also hope to gain a better understanding of how the industry trade bodies function, and how each body communicates with each other, the growers and the Government to draw down funding and influence policy to help businesses in the sector”

George Boreham

Breeding Nursery Manager, Edward Vinson

George is the Breeding Nursery Manager at Edward Vinson, he has been in the role for 1 year and 6 months. He is responsible for managing the glasshouse: from seeds to seedlings, to ensuring the plants leave in a healthy condition

George studied Plant Science at Canterbury Christ Church University. During his studies he worked for Driscolls and FAST (Fruit Advisory Service Team), where he gained a valuable insight into the soft fruit industry, helping his passion for plants, develop. “There is huge potential to expand new varieties into foreign soils and I’d love to be at the forefront of this one day.”

“As a new manager at my company I believe the Fellowship would give me a boost of confidence alongside establishing valuable friendships and contacts in the industry. I believe my current knowledge, ideas on future policy and self-motivation would be an asset to the Fellowship scheme and the cohorts. There will be a vast number of people in the industry I can connect with and share ideas with. It will be a great chance to gain knowledge and by doing so an opportunity to then transfer that to my own place of work at Edward Vinson and my future career in horticulture.”

Valeria Kiss

Trainee Growing Manager, APS Produce Ltd

Valeria has been a trainee Growing Manager at APS Produce Ltd for 3 years. She originally started in the company as crop worker, pest and disease scout and grower’s assistant.

Her current role is to deliver top quality tomatoes to all of her customers throughout the season. Her responsibilities include: looking after glasshouse heating and ventilation strategies, watering strategies, monitoring the climate day to day, and pest and disease limitation.

 “With the Fellowship Scheme I would like to take the opportunity to learn, also meet other people within horticulture industry to share our experience and knowledge. The chance to attend on conferences and to meet well experienced seniors could only improve my knowledge and future career…The Fellowship Scheme I think is a right direction towards this and hopefully the program will bring enthusiastic young growers together to maintain a competitive future for British horticulture.”

Follow Valeria @ValeriaKiss5

2019 Fellows

Charles Croft

Growing Manager, APS Group

Being part of the LSA Fellowship scheme has been a really privilege. I have attended multiple events that have been both interesting, thought provoking and useful in terms of taking ideas back to my place of work. Many of the events I would not have normally got the opportunity to attend and have benefited me hugely in terms of career development. I also feel the whole process has given me a much better understanding of the horticultural industry. All of the fellows are extremely knowledgeable and having the chance to discuss the similarities and differences between how our businesses operate has really opened my eyes to different ways of working and thinking. There is a huge range of diversity in terms of the different areas of the horticultural industry each fellow works and this has meant I have been able to learn a lot about areas of the industry I wouldn’t normally be exposed to. I would highly recommend the LSA fellowship scheme to any young person who is looking to expand their knowledge and understanding of the horticultural industry.”

Jason Daff

Horticulture Facilities Manager, University of York

“I have found being part of the fellowship scheme very useful, attending various meetings and conferences has been particularly useful for exposing me to a wider range of issues facing the horticulture industry. Perhaps the most rewarding aspect has been forging relationships with my fellowship colleagues; sharing our experiences and knowledge informally has helped me think about different ways to solve problems faced in my own work.”

Lucille Gilpin,

Horticultural Grower, Ballytrone Nurseries

“My time spent with the LSA CT Fellowship Scheme has been vital in my progression within my personal and career development, with the conferences, contacts and general chat, I have gained much more confidence in myself allowing me to achieve fully in my current role. We have attended a wealth of conferences and meetings, the best so far was AHDB’s Smart Hort conference, where the whole group met. We all have different backgrounds within horticulture so it made conversations really interesting. The group of 6 is now my go-to group for all problems relating to horticulture!”

Libby Rowland

Research and Development Officer, Vitacress Herbs.

“I have not been disappointed by my time on the LSA CT Fellowship Scheme. I’ve met some great people and learned so much from numerous different events we’ve been given the opportunity to attend; all in the first seven months of a two year programme. I would encourage any young person embarking on their horticultural career to apply and I’d encourage their employers to give them their full support along the way. By the end of the scheme, you’ll have a more confident, better informed and better connected colleague on your team.”

Daniel Meuldyk

Grower Manager, James Coles & Sons Nurseries Limited

“I currently work at  James Coles Nurseries growing and supplying hardy nursery stock for a wide range of customers. I joined James Coles as a 16 year old not really knowing what horticulture was, but I have learned a lot along the way.

I have worked for James Coles for 18 years, progressing though the Company, spending my first 10 years in Tree Production learning news skills such as chip budding, fruit training and learning the tree names and requirements.

Following this, an opportunity came up as Grower Manager at our Syston site. Growing hardy shrubs was a new challenge for me as I needed to learn about a whole new crop of plants. However, this has given me a good insight into both sides of the business which has helped to widen my knowledge.

Within my time in this role I have had the opportunity to complete multiple courses such as Horticulture Level 2 and have gained two Spraying Licences.

I see myself as more of a hands on sort of guy that enjoys getting stuck in and getting my hands dirty. I hope to continue progressing in my role and to gain a broader knowledge of the industry as a whole.”

Matt Boyns,

Procurement Manager, Bakkavor

“After graduating in Mechanical Engineering, I took a temporary procurement position at Chingford Fruit Packers where a passion for produce was ignited. 3.5 years later, I moved to dps where I undertook a 6.5 year stint in fruit purchasing and account management roles. In 2014 I joined the salad grower PDM Produce as a commercial manager, a role which required exceptionally close relations with the farming side of the business. A deep passion for British farming and industry developed and in 2018 I joined the salad and herb supplier JWE.

Professionally I have been commercially focused, yet I’m inquisitive and have always taken every opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the produce business, especially in the science and real-world practicalities of growing. With interests in automation and mechanisation along with development of new cultivars, gene editing and breakthrough technologies such as AI and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, it is truly an exciting time to be alive with the world developing at such pace.

I hope to develop a cross category voice that will be far more coherent and influential than a single esoteric opinion. I hope to eventually be involved in the introduction and commercialisation of the great work done by our scientists and technologists looking for routes into industry.”

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