John graduated from Wye College (University of London) with a BSc (Hons) in Plant Sciences. For the next five years he worked in farm management growing outdoor salad and vegetable crops, including a few months in Spain.
Joining FAST over 30 years ago, John has been specialising in soft fruit crops since August 1989 advising growers throughout the UK as well as in a handful of European countries.
Based in the west of England, living in Herefordshire but travelling widely, Graham provides advice to tree and berry fruit growers. Specialising in plant husbandry, fertigation, biological control and modern growing systems, Graham has more than 30 years of experience in consultancy, but his career has included spells as as a grower and a farm manager. Graham acts as an advisor to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (soft fruit sector panel) and has travelled widely overseas promoting, and advising on, protected growing systems for fruit crops.
‘I was very fortunate after a period of travelling during which I found myself working as a labourer on fruit farms in Australia and New Zealand, my degree course at Bath University involved a series of placements out in the horticultural industry. Those included a spell at what was then the New Zealand Apple & Pear Marketing Board and one at FAST who offered me a full-time position when I graduated. Right from the start there was never a dull moment at FAST. Having spent a few years away from FAST between 2001 and 2006 I am even better placed to appreciate the benefits of working within a team of enthusiastic specialists entirely focussed on extending horticultural science into practice in a dynamic sector of food production that is so quick to innovate’.
Graduating with a BSc (Hons.) in Agriculture from Seale-Hayne Agricultural College (Plymouth Uni.), my first few years of agricultural experience was dominated by livestock, with some arable thrown in for good measure; coming from the west country I had expected that to continue.
However, my career took me into the area of crop production, specialising in the growing and harvesting of salad crops, including ‘baby leaf’ crops, vegetables and herbs for the U.K. market. This path gave me the opportunity to live and work in a number of countries including Zimbabwe and Kenya and also 12 years in Portugal; also gaining experience in the start-up and development of production sites and the growing of novel crops.
Joining FAST in 2008 saw me transition from grower to top fruit advisor. Based in Faversham, Kent, I visit farms in the South East and East Anglia. Since joining FAST, I have been able to develop specialisms and introduce new ideas. These include:
- Harvest dates prediction for cherry and apple (Gala and Braeburn)
- Fruit size growth curves
- Introduction of fruit Dry Matter content; development as a tool to rank orchard in order of storage potential and assess fruit quality
- Crop maturity, fruit quality and post-harvest
- Gala clones; assessing performance at harvest
- Multi – stem trees; orchard design for the future
- Pesticide application
I am from Tasmania, Australia, and after completing my University degree I became an Agronomist and worked on my family’s salad farm for four years.
Moving to England in 2016, I did various seasonal work involving insect monitoring in the soft fruit industry before joining FAST in March 2018 as a Soft Fruit Advisor.
I am based in London and visit growers all over England carrying out crop walking services and giving advice on all aspects of growing for various soft fruit crops. During the winter months I carry out strawberry flower mapping services for our members to help with making informed decisions and crop forecasting.
With South African origins and British roots, after college Charles worked as a Senior Farm Manager of a top fruit family run farm in the Elgin Valley, near Cape Town for nine years gaining valuable experience in operations, teamwork and financial management abilities.
Finding the best path forward with a friendly deposition and flexible nature encouraged Charles to tackle any challenge with an open-minded approach. Seeking to expand his knowledge and gain personal growth by adding value to the team with his experience to a new and challenging role as Top Fruit Advisor within FAST LLP. Having grown up on a fruit farm this is a part of his nature, making him extremely passionate about agriculture.
Charles seeks to develop the sustainability and biodiversity sector of agriculture and break the boundaries of innovative technologies used on farms by bringing revolutionary ideas and solutions to the farmer which are realistic and economical.
After completing my schooling, I started working in the agriculture industry. I joined an international soft fruit farm in my hometown of George, Western Cape, South Africa. I then moved on to a farm in the United States of America, where I gained individual practical and hands-on experience and it is this experience I applied into my future in the agricultural industry.
On returning to my hometown, I re-joined my previous company as a grower of multiple soft fruit crops, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries as well as the propagation thereof. This is where over the past 7years, I have grown as a leader, team player and developed into a specialist in my field of expertise.
I pride myself with a sound work ethic, strong moral compass and I am enthused about the opportunity to continue growing at FAST LLP in both my personal and professional role.