The National Fruit Show celebrates its 90th year at the Kent County Showground on Wednesday 1 and Thursday 2 November 2023. 

This year’s show will be opened by Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union, who will give a keynote speech as well as touring the show and meeting with fruit growers and industry leaders.

The National Fruit Show is organised by growers, for growers, and showcases the finest British apples and pears, soft fruit and nuts with a large display at the centre of the show. The National Fruit Show is sponsored by BASF, Hutchinsons, N.P. Seymour Ltd and Worldwide Fruit.

Sally Flanagan, CEO of the Marden Fruit Show Society, organisers of the show, commented: “We are inviting growers from across the UK to help us to celebrate the show’s 90th year by putting on the largest display of fruit ever and we also have a real focus this year on the future for the industry with an exciting ‘teacher encounter’ event on Day 2. 

“The show will be packed with exhibitors and there is a terrific range of speakers and information for fruit growers. We look forward to welcoming everyone and hope they enjoy the show.”

Catherine Paice, President of the National Fruit Show, added: “The National Fruit Show is not only for growers by growers, but a showcase from which to take new ideas, developments, energy, education and, of course, the best fruit to the outside world.”

Broadcaster, food and drink expert and all-round ‘bon viveur’ Nigel Barden will host several talks over the two days. The draft speaker programme, sponsored by Gullands Solicitors, is opposite.

Other highlights of the show include a focus on education, young people and teachers, highlighting careers in the fresh produce sector and the skills needed by employers. 

On day two, the Kent and Medway Careers Hub will be running the first ever Kent and Medway Teacher Encounter event, free for teachers and hosted by The National Fruit Show Education Programme.

 This ground-breaking event will bring together career educators, senior leaders and curriculum teachers from mainstream secondary schools, colleges, SEND (special educational needs and disability) and alternative provisions and businesses from the horticulture and wider fresh produce sectors exhibiting at The National Fruit Show. This promises to be an exciting opportunity to understand, develop and ignite connections between the world of education and the world of work. 

The Teacher Encounter will enable more than 100 educators to hear guest speakers, network with fresh produce industry leaders and meet exhibitors demonstrating the dynamic and varied careers paths available. 

Linking careers within horticulture and fresh produce to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, the event is designed to allow educators to take real-life examples back to the classroom to enrich their teaching and conversations about careers in the sector.

Educators and businesses will have the opportunity to discuss the challenges in growing careers aspirations and access to the industry through networking and to create new working relationships to support the local economic need of Kent and Medway and inspire well-skilled, career-ready young people to work in the sector. 

This event aims to deliver exciting outcomes for both educators and businesses, including:


  • Challenging misconceptions of horticulture and the wider fresh produce industry 
  • Embedding curriculum learning in the context of work 
  • Offering examples of positive and diverse role models
  • Supporting students to recognise skills employers’ value 
  • Reflecting both growing and declining sectors through teaching 
  • Developing sustained and embedded employer relationships to support school engagement.


  • Increased awareness and visibility of the sector within the wider community 
  • Better prepared young people/applicants
  • Developing future pipeline and future skills need 
  • Increasing interest/applications to employers (specifically areas with skills gaps)
  • Increased diversity in the workplace
  • Improved recruitment practises to attract young people. 

What is a Teacher Encounter? 

Teacher encounters with employers enable educators to fully understand current industry practice and share up-to-date knowledge and skills with their students.

They help educators maintain a breadth of knowledge and an understanding of the latest technical and professional developments relevant to the subjects they teach, including present and future career opportunities and pathways and the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for different roles. 

Educators can use these insights to inspire their students and keep their teaching and curriculum up to date. Employers can support educators to shape the curriculum and provide relevance to the world of work to ensure young people are best prepared as a future workforce.

Matt Peake, operational hub lead at the Kent and Medway Careers Hub, commented: “An important part in making careers education inspirational, relevant and sustainable is endowing teachers with the knowledge of what is happening in the industries and businesses that directly relate to the curriculum they are teaching.

“Teacher encounters, combined with experiences of the workplace for students, can bring to life job roles and career pathways for learners and enable them to see school or college as an integral part of their journey into the world of work.” 

Samantha Smith, education lead at The National Fruit Show, said: “Understanding the comprehensive and contextual needs of the education sector and the needs of the fresh produce industry has played a vital role in us organising this relevant, meaningful and critically timed event which supports schools to achieve the Gatsby benchmarks.

“Our immediate aim is to give a real and practical insight into how young people can become part of an exciting and vital industry in the UK and to connect educators and employers to better support each other and these future employees.

“Significantly, we will use this event to gather and disseminate the lessons learned to all parties, bridging a long overdue skills and labour gap.”

Read our full National Fruit Show preview