Stars of production horticulture unveiled at UK Grower Awards 2014

A top fruit grower that has seen its turnover triple since 2006 when it began a rapid programme of expansion, and a bedding grower that has seen off the sector's challenges by paying detailed attention to every aspect of its business, scooped the big prizes at last night's UK Grower Awards 2014 last night.

UK Grower Awards 2014: Image HW
UK Grower Awards 2014: Image HW

A C Goatham and Barnsfold Nurseries were among a host of stars of British horticulture production that took awards in front of more than 400 leading production professionals at the prestigious Grand Connaught Rooms in London’s Covent Garden. Both took the Gold Awards which meant they were chosen as the best among all the night’s winners in their sector – for edibles and ornamentals respectively.

Bedfordshire Growers Co-operative took the award for vegetable grower of the year, impressing judges with its innovation bringing new varieties to market in the UK, while Vicarage Nurseries returned to snare soft fruit grower of the year for the second time.

Lovania Nurseries meanwhile took nursery stock grower of the year thanks to an ongoing programme of improvement including cost control, while East Coast Growers took the award for Salad Grower of the Year for continuing improvement in production methods leading to 200 per cent increase in radish yields.

Tom Woods, a founding director of Oakover Nurseries, took the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulating the innovation and excellence of the winners, incoming NFU deputy president Minette Batters said the increasing frequency of weather extremes demonstrated it was essential for growers to "think differently, adapt and build resilience".

But she added: "our investment has to be matched with support from our customers and consumers if we are to build successful, sustainable businesses."

Thanking this year's entrants, HW editor Kate Lowe acknowledged the challenges last year's growing conditions had posed for everyone. She said: "You have proved yet again, just how inventive, just how courageous and just how resilient this industry is, even in the face of increasingly unpredictable growing conditions."

Judges for this year were British Grower Association’s Tim Mudge, crop consultants John Adlam, Derek Hargreaves and Andrew Hewson, Stockbridge Technology Centre’s Graham Ward and garden industry adviser Neville Stein.

Sponsors this year were: NFU (event sponsor), Agrovista, ASDA, Botanicoir, HTA, Kubota, Modiform, MorePeople, New Spitalfields Market, Quinton Edwards, Rijk Zwaan, Sharpak, XL Horticulture.

Hill Brothers dressed the room with orchids for every guest table place.

The winners in full

  • Gold Award – Grower of the Year Edibles – AC Goatham & Son
  • Gold Award – Grower of the Year Ornamentals – Barnsfold Nurseries
  • Vegetable Grower of the Year – Bedfordshire Growers Cooperative
  • Top Fruit Grower of the Year – AC Goatham & Son
  • Soft Fruit Grower of the Year – Vicarage Nurseries
  • Salads Grower of the Year – East Coast Nurseries (Highly Commended: UK Salads)
  • Protected Ornamentals Grower of the Year - Barnsfold Nurseries
  • Nursery Stock Grower of the Year – Lovania Nurseries (Highly Commended: Majestic Trees)
  • Best Business Innovation – GreenSky, Boningale Nurseries (Highly Commended: Ball Colegrave)
  • Top Sales/Marketing Professional – Rick Mckeever, Lovania Nurseries (Highly Commended: Andrew Austin, Majestic Trees)
  • Best Environmental Initiative – Lettuce Flowers
  • Young Grower of the Year – Jorge Nobrega, Lovania Nurseries
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Tom Wood
  • Best Consumer Marketing Campaign, British Tomato Growers’ Association (Highly Commended: VHB Herbs)
  • Best Professional product or service – Delivery to Tree Pit, Majestic Trees (Highly Commended: Crop specialist, Stuart Lambert)
  • Best Training Initiative – James Coles & Sons
  • Best Exporter – Viking Nurseries
  • Best New Variety – Edibles – Tatsoi, Produce World Group
  • Best New Variety – Bedding/Pot Plants – Petunia Black Night, Thompson & Morgan
  • Best New Variety – Nursery Stock – Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Glam Rock’, Thompson & Morgan

For full details on the winners download our UK Grower Awards 2014 supplement.

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