How I Got Started: Mark Fletcher, head of horticulture, Westland

Mark Fletcher, head of horticulture, Westland. Image: Westland
Mark Fletcher, head of horticulture, Westland. Image: Westland

How did you get started? My parents had a market garden in Northern Ireland and, even further back than that, my uncle had a nursery, so I started at an extremely young age. When I was four or five, I used to carry boxes of lettuce for them. I started growing things at that age too. After that I worked for the North Downs Group, did a degree at Queens in Belfast and a masters and PhD at Reading.

What does your typical day involve? It is very varied actually. The more common tasks now are things such as getting involved in product development. I am looking at our range of veg and flower seeds and bulbs. There is a lot of checking of new varieties coming through, and deciding if they are of a high enough standard for Westland. We are looking at bringing in a lot of commercial varieties.

What is the best part of your job? The variety. I get to go out and see suppliers, stay in the office or work with production. I like meeting people and working with new varieties and new things that are coming through.

And the worst? Paperwork, I suppose. It is one of those things that you have to do but would prefer not to; but it is not too much, fortunately.

What piece of kit can't you do without? My wellies, because you just never know where you are going to be, so I always have them in the back of the car. And because you can't really rely on the British weather.

How do you relax? I like to walk the dog or go to the gym. I like swimming and I still play rugby sometimes.

What does the future hold? I have been in the job only a month so, hopefully, progression within Westland. It is a company that goes ahead and it has lots of new ideas. I don't know where I will be but hopefully still involved with Westland and progressing.


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