Grower of the Year Awards showcase outstanding efforts

Many congratulations to the winners of the Grower of the Year Awards 2011 which took place last Thursday evening (17 February) at the London Lancaster Gate Hotel.

More than 500 professionals from the production horticulture sector gathered for the event, which serves first and foremost to celebrate the achievements of the sector, but also provides us with an opportunity to highlight, further afield, just what this sector is capable of.

Thank you to everyone who put so much time and effort into their entries. And thank you to the businesses and organisations that made this celebration possible through their sponsorship of the event. These include Horticulture Week's main partners for the awards, Asda, the HTA and the NFU.

I hope you enjoy reading about this year's winners in our special awards supplement, which is published together with this issue.

There were so many highlights that it is hard to pick out just one or two. But special mention must be made to the entrants to the Vegetable Grower of the Year award. Despite enormous challenges in the sector over the past two years, it produced an outstanding crop of entries earning three commendations as well as an outstanding winner in Stewarts of Tayside.

Another highlight was the presence among the winners of so many fresh faces this year in defiance of the industry's concerns over recruiting the next generation. Those fresh faces included a business whose director and staff boast an average age of 20 - Mailordertrees. Meanwhile, the strength of the entries we received for Young Grower of the Year resulted in not one but two winners and a high commendation to boot. Well done to them all.

- We say a very sad goodbye today to our columnist - and the nation's finest and best parks champion - Alan Barber, who died last week after a long illness. Alan was quite simply the most brilliant, the most courageous, the most generous and the most indefatigable campaigner for parks that we could hope to have. And such a great friend to so many in the industry. He will be sorely missed.


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