Growing interest fuels Southern Growers Show's success

Returning to its new home at Roundstone Nurseries for the second year in a row, the Southern Growers Exhibition is already sold out with organisers working hard to fit in all the exhibitors.

They are hoping to build on the success of last year's show, which saw the move from the original Sandown Racecourse site bring an 80 per cent rise in visitors from 400 to more than 700.

A breakdown of visitors to last year's event shows the majority were nursery buyers and growers, with the rest of the numbers being made up by horticultural consultants, garden retail buyers and suppliers, landscapers, growers and horticultural students.

This year's show, which takes place next Wednesday, will include two topical seminars: Introduction of Re-Entry or Handling Intervals - Will They Restrict the Use of Vital Pesticides? and Abolition of the AWB - What Will Be the Implications for Growers? In addition, the show will provide an opportunity to tour both Roundstone Nurseries and the neighbouring Hill Brothers Nursery.

New venue raises interest in show

The exhibition's organiser Monro South believes last year's move from Sandown Racecourse to Roundstone Nurseries has further raised interest in the show, which is in its 17th year. Sales manager Kieran Daly says: "Following the successful relocation of the show to Roundstone in 2009, this year's show has continued to gain momentum and interest from all sectors of the industry.

"It's a huge improvement because it's bringing the show back towards the customer base that visits it rather than asking them to travel a long distance. Last year, that proved to be a big winner in terms of visitors and the online registration for this year's show has increased by 30 per cent."

Event host Roundstone Nurseries is pleased with the show's success following the relocation to its nursery site. Nursery manager John Polman says: "Last year was a fantastic success and it went really well. We have completely sold out this year but I'm sure we could make some extra space if need be - it can only get better.

"There are going to be tours around two different sites this year - us and a neighbouring nursery, Hill Brothers - which will be quite good. Last year we did the tours on our main site, which is quite automated, and that's what people like to see."

Chance to explore impressive sites

Daly explains: "The reason we are still having a trip around Roundstone is that a lot of people didn't get to go last year and it's such an impressive site, and for the people who did go round there's also the Hill Brothers Nursery visit."

New Place Nurseries exhibited at the show for the first time last year and won Best Nursery Exhibit. Sales director Steven Lee says: "I thought it was a fantastic show last year and it was surprising the local business that we picked up out of it, like little nurseries that we can service. Some of them were people we don't see at other shows.

"I'm hoping to follow on from that this year. We have tied up most of our 2011 orders with our customers and people are just fine-tuning things. It's a chance to meet customers and do any final order changes."

Mechanical Botanical scooped the award for Best Stand in Show last year and hopes the increase in visitors will remain for this year's show. Company representative Mike Searle says: "It was a good one for us. I think the fact it was the first Southern Growers show down at Roundstone created a lot of interest so we will wait to see whether or not that remains the same this year."

More to offer for regional growers

Daly says the Southern Growers show has more to offer regional growers: "I wouldn't put down other shows but the concentration of the growers in the area is higher. It's location is attractive because of the sheer quantity of growers within the southern area, which does have a huge impact on the show.

"Also, the time of year is good as well. It's the last show of the year on the horticultural calendar and yet a lot of people still haven't made final decisions about the season - it's a great opportunity to make those decisions.

"It gives them a chance to evaluate the season that they have had and the show offers an end-of-year opportunity to talk, discuss and look at all the current issues and new products and to focus on the season ahead."

SHOW DETAILS

Where: Roundstone Nurseries, Pagham Road, Lagness, Chichester, West Sussex PO20 1LL

When: Wednesday 10 November (9.30am to 4pm)

Admission: Free on registration at www.southerngrowers.net

Contact: 01243 533700

SEMINARS

- Introduction of Re-Entry or Handling Intervals - Will They Restrict the Use of Vital Pesticides?

Fargro Plants' Neil Heyler will discuss current pesticide issues and how new legislation will effect pesticide usage.

- Abolition of the AWB - What Will Be the Implications for Growers?

NFU employment spokesman and leader of the Agricultural Wages Board employment team Bob Fiddamen will discuss: "The Agricultural Wages Board: Now and the Future."

Held at 11am and 2pm


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