Conference 2021

Spring Conference 2021 – Agenda
‘Challenges & Opportunities- finding new solutions for old problems’
20th January 10am –4:00pm

Welcome & Opening address- James Alcaraz- Chairman BPOA
Theme 1- New Gardeners- New Markets
10:00 A grower’s experience of direct sales Graeme Edwards, Woodlark Nurseries
10:20 ‘New gardeners, new gardens- the drive thru’ experience’ Natalie Porter, Happy Plants
10:40 Social media marketing plan: Practical tips Graeme Edwards, Woodlark Nurseries
11:00 Coffee Break

Theme 2- Old threats from New thrips
11:10 Not all thrips are WFT Gerben Messelink, Wageningen University
11:30 Optimising thrips monitoring in ornamental crops. Jude Bennison & Clare Sampson, Russell IPM

Theme 3- Growing your workforce
12:00 “YPHA- Uniting, Inspiring and Empowering Young People in Horticulture” Natalie Porter, Happy Plants
12:20 Recruiting and retaining talent Martin Brown, Henderson Brown
12:40 Conversation in Sessions for Themes 1,2 &3
13:00- 13:40 Lunch & Networking time (breakout sessions, view sponsors booths, P&D Quiz, new product showcase, distributor showcase)
Theme Four- “Carbon- problem or opportunity?”
13:40 New audit systems for measuring carbon footprint Martin de la Harpe,
14:00 Taking the first steps to Net Zero Jon Swain, NFU Energy

Theme Five- Top tips for Spring crops
14:30 Crops for spring production Eric Forschelen, Green4ce
14:50 Effective nursery trials Chloe Whiteside, ADAS
15:10 Developments with primrose Wouter de Meester, Rudy Raes
15:30 Tea and chat – Sessions for Themes 4&5 (conference closes)


Natalie Porter

Natalie Porter is business development manager at Porters Fuchsias, a family run bedding plant grower based in Formby. The company is owner of the Happy Plants garden centre brand which has a particular focus on nurturing inexperienced gardeners- especially pertinent this year! Natalie is also co-founder of the Young People in Horticulture Association and will be speaking to us during the 3rd theme about involving young people in horticulture careers.

Graeme Edwards

Graeme is the Production Director at Woodlark Nurseries, working with the company since he was 12 and has been full time for 5 years.
One of the most important aspects he oversees is the continued investment in production facilities. This ensures the high quality and efficiencies they and their customers desire. The other important aspect of his work is the increasingly close relationship with wholesale customers themselves and this season, an increased involvement with direct sales via the internet.

Gerben Messelink

Gerben Messelink is professor Biological Pest Control in Greenhouse Productions Systems for Wageningen University & Research.  A large part of his work is focusing on the selection and evaluation of new natural enemies for various greenhouse pests, such as thrips, aphids, whiteflies and plant feeding mites. This has contributed to the availability of  several new species for biological control, such as the predatory mites  Amblyseius swirskii and  Macrocheles robustulus, as well as the ladybird beetle  Propylea quatuordecimpunctat. Gerben is also active within the International Organisation for Biological and Integrated Control (IOBC). 

Jude Bennison

Jude is based at ADAS Boxworth near Cambridge and has been an Entomologist with ADAS for over 30 years. For most of that time she has specialised in research and consultancy on pests of protected edible and ornamental crops, with an emphasis on biological control and Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Over the years Jude has been involved in developing IPM strategies with growers for commercial adoption.

Clare Sampson

Clare is technical director at Russell IPM, a company that provides integrated pest management (IPM) solutions, including traps and lures for monitoring pests. Clare specialises in biological control and in developing cost-effective IPM programmes in commercial crops. She started working on thrips when western flower thrips (WFT) first arrived in the UK (1980s), and helped to develop effective thrips control programmes combining the use of predatory mites and mass trapping.

Martin de la Harpe

Martin has 25 years’ experience in developing standards in horticultural supply chains after completing a MSc in Plant Biotechnology at Wye College and a post graduate diploma in Plant and Soil Analysis at Wageningen Agricultural University. Initially, working in tea and coffee in Malawi and Kenya, and then from 1997 has been working in floriculture supply chain in technical and ethical standards and human rights due diligence. Martin’s most recent role was Head of Sustainability for Flamingo Horticulture.

Jon Swain

Jon has been part of the NFU Energy team since 2005 and since then has been working on horticultural energy projects including the use of thermal screens, temperature integration and next generation growing. Jon has been responsible for the GrowSave programme (AHDB Funded KE project) for the last 4 years which aims to ensure growers have the latest information in respect of energy and climate management matters suitable for their business

Martin Brown

Martin started Henderson Brown in 2009 with extensive experience in the fresh and horticulture sectors having held Managing Director roles at Lingarden Flowers and The Greenery UK. His passion for the sectors led him to starting this successful and growing recruitment business which is built on the foundations of his and the company’s shared values. Martin is still hands on and recruits Executive roles across the sector, in addition, he is heavily focused on growing the HB team. In his spare time, he can be caught with a squash racket in hand or watching Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.

Eric Forschelen

Eric Forschelen- Green4ce, a culture adviser of huge experience, is returning to speak to our conference again this year and he is updating us on cultural techniques for the early part of the year. In his presentation, Eric will discuss the fascinating ideas around creating spring crops, looking at the factors that control growth and creating a dynamic balance to optimise plant performance.

Chloe Whitehead

Chloe joined RSK ADAS Ltd in 2011 as a Research Technician. In 2013 Chloe joined the ADAS Horticulture team as a Consultant, working in the protected crops sector on both edibles and ornamentals. Chloe is now involved in a number of research projects focussing on crop physiology and environmental control. Chloe plays a fundamental role in the ‘Bedding and Pot Plant Centre’, and is the project manager for ‘Transition to Responsibly Sourced Growing Media’, a 5-year project covering all areas of horticulture.

Wouter de Meester

Wouter de Meester is the culture adviser for Rudy Raes, a Belgian company with an international reputation for breeding and in particular, primula which we purchase at this time of the year as Primrose. Wouter has more than 30 years of experience and is a dedicated plant production expert. Many years ago they identified that there was a decline in interest in the product and set about breeding and selecting novel types like ‘Blue Zebra’ to try to reverse the trend!