I hold an MSc in Renewable Natural Resources and Development, with fieldwork in the forests of Mount Elgon National Park, Uganda. Following on from this I worked on a research project in Hong Kong, looking at the role of birds in the dispersal of invasive plants.
I joined the team at FAST, as Horticultural Curator of the National Fruit Collection, in 2013, where my work includes walking the orchards to check the health of the trees and organising repropagation where necessary. I’m also the go-to person for supply of graftwood from the many varieties that we hold in the Collection (over 3000!) and while there are many great aspects to the role, probably the best part for me is recording the blossom in springtime – there’s not much that can beat ‘having’ to walk through an orchard full of blossom.
I carry out the field work and recording of the National Fruit Collection (based in Brogdale, Faversham) in conjunction with Dr Matt Ordidge, who is the Scientific Curator of the NFC and based at Reading University.
I am currently working on the Apple and Pear Collections, examining samples of fruit collected during the summer and cold stored. For this I use a list of Characterization and Evaluation Descriptors, one for Apple and one for Pear. Earlier in the summer I collected fruit samples from the Plum Collection and using the Plum Descriptor list, followed the same procedure.
These lists are drawn up by the European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR). One of their main objectives is to be able to compare and analyse data from different Collections in different countries and using the same methodology for characterization and evaluation of each apple, pear or plum accession makes this much easier. This work enables us to identify the morphologic polymorphism of the accessions and to identify the different cultivars present in the Collections. We can also use such characters to study the phenotypic variability of our genetic resources.
I have been carrying out these observations on the Collections now for some years as Assistant Scientific Curator, having held the post with Imperial College during the years of their scientific curatorship of the NFC.