George, who won the £1,500 South West Growers Show Sponsored Scholarship while studying Horticulture BSc at Writtle College, shares his news since receiving the scholarship…

“I secured a job immediately after graduation in the research and development department of a sustainable production systems business. I moved to Cambridge, which is closer to horticultural organisations, such as NIAB, Newney group, Barcham, Cornerways and Ball Colegrave. The company I am working with is directly affiliated with NIAB but also works with Rothamstead, Writtle College, Easton & Otley College and the biochemical departments of other universities in England and Scotland.
As I am now surrounded by horticulture production excellence, I will take this opportunity to explore my options and see where my career will take me. Within the hub of horticultural companies that I work with, I can immerse myself in any company to gain valuable business knowledge. The company I currently work for is small, but in a period of rapid growth, so it is an exciting time to be with a young enterprise as you can rise through the ranks quickly and affect the future strategy. There is a wide range of responsibilities to this job; ranging from teaching new recruits to manage plant trials, to overseeing the nutrient delivery system build and configuration for the specific plant trials. At this stage in the businesses life, employees in the company needs to have a wide range of skills and have to turn their hands to a variety of tasks. For example, I have recently been working with Arduino programming and electronic build projects for controlled environment rooms. Every day is different and I have been involved in the strategic discussions of the business with potential investors.

We have been currently working on some portable production systems. These are innovative, patented growing systems with the supplementary technology to produce high quality low input produce. The growing systems’ market is aimed at conventional growers and diversifying farmers with acreage or storage which is currently inefficiently used. The company has also gained interest with African, Arab, Asian and South American nations seeking sustainable, consistent, seasonless production and food independence.

Recent ornamental crops include chrysanthemums and Ginger lilies, but the trials are not limited to ornamentals, as I manage experimental trials for Peppers, Chillies, blueberries, Stevia and Wasabi. Integrated pest management is implemented by myself into the trials and systems. Biological control is used in our system without the use for pesticides or herbicides. We focus on bio-chemicals within the company because of the uncertainty of conventional pesticide regulation.

Domestic systems are also available for home growers, using aeroponic techniques, compatible with a hydroponic or an aquaponic nutrient base. This allows for home owners to grow tasty and nutritious fruit and vegetables sustainably without watering, digging or weeding.

We were proud to win finalist for the Business of the Year award and win the Small Business award at the EADT Business Awards 2017. At the same event we were also finalists in the food and farming award and knowledge catalyst award, which was testament to the current progress of the company’s activities.

Further qualifications to increase the credibility of my experience are P1 and P6 Spraying certificate. I expect to be taking them in September to increase my technical know-how. My knowledge of IPM and production systems has been expanded with the access to technical literature.

I hope to go into Resource management and efficiency. Currently I would like to specialise in the research and development department; working to increase efficiency within the sustainable production systems. In the future, I hope to become either Productions Manager, Marketing Manager or Operations Manager. Because a lot of these jobs require specific industry knowledge, experience and qualifications which I do not have presently, these positions are goals for me to aim for. My supervisors have offered training and development while working to fit me into a role for the company, to support my ambition of becoming a productions manager.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the South West Growers show and the David Colegrave foundation once again for their generosity and hope that many other prospective students manage to gain this Scholarship as it has greatly improved my independence and career prospects.”