Throwing down the gauntlet

Writers Posted 14/09/21
I’m putting out there as a challenge to you practically minded geniuses.

I begin this month with my first call to action; we have two new awards at the fruit show this year, and while one has already been decided there is a second that I’m putting out there as a challenge to you practically minded geniuses.

Ian Johnson of the Highland Investment Company is still sorely missed by all those who worked with and admired him. Speaking with the company’s chief executive Gary Walters, we agreed that Ian wouldn’t have much enjoyed a life of farming by apps (he would have loved the knowledge, don’t get me wrong) but would have looked for practical, non-electronic tech ways of getting to where he wanted to be.

So, his former colleagues have created the Ian Johnson Practical Innovation award. We want to hear your practical, on-farm solutions to farming problems. Tell us about the innovative piece of kit you have created that has simplified a complicated, or expensive, problem for farmers everywhere. Nominations should be made in writing to sarah@nationalfruitshow.org.uk

A second call to action has come from the NFU national team. As a farming sector we have a lot to be thankful for in the seasonal worker permit scheme; no other sector received permits for workers and it has made an enormous difference for many growers this year already.

But what is apparent is that it has been a drop in the ocean of the true numbers required; our settled and pre-settled workers haven’t returned in the anticipated numbers. There is a very real, and worrying, deficit of workers both numerically and in the ability of candidates to do the job required.

You will have been sent an email from the NFU team; please could you take a few minutes to respond and let them know of any issues that you are encountering. The DWP central teams have been briefed and are standing by to take any vacancies; the numbers of roles they are given and the candidates they place will be data for the government, key information on the needs of our sector.

Please respond to the request. It’s going to play a crucial role in the months to come in getting us more permits, to allow more recruits and even to change some of the barriers that our experienced workers have encountered when trying to return to UK farms. There is undoubtedly potential for crop loss, either at the tree or as a consequence of late harvesting; it’s not unreasonable to expect that we will need to collate this data, too, as the season progresses.

And the third call to action… with apologies to the editor, I am returning to the fruit show. The competition schedule has been published (available on the new website, www.nationalfruitshow.org.uk) and we are throwing down the gauntlet to all growers. To celebrate the return to Detling and a bustling physical show, we would like to deliver a stunning display of competition fruit, despite all the horrendous weather issues that have created so many problems for our members this year. This is the year to have a try at packing a show sample for the first time. There is comprehensive guidance on the website on how to present your fruit to best advantage.

How wonderful it would be if our supreme champion were a first-time entrant!


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