Meet the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board

18 March 2022

Horticulture and potatoes
Field of potatoes

The NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board works hard on behalf of the NFU to support our members. 

Chair: Martin Emmett

Martin is an ornamental plant grower and a director of Tristram Plants, which is part of the Farplants co-operative which grows and markets over 2000 plant varieties, and generates more than £50 million worth of sales through retail each year.

Martin was elected chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board in March 2022.

Vice Chair: Derek Wilkinson

Derek is Managing Director of Sandfields Farms Ltd (part of The Shropshire Group), growing over 1600 ha of salads and vegetables for the major retailers, and employing more than 1500 staff across Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Kent.

It also has West Africa Farms business in Senegal, for the production of over 400 ha of winter salads for the UK and EU market.

Ali Capper

Ali is a top fruit (including cider apples) and hops grower in Worcestershire, director of the British Hop Association, member of the Hop Industry Committee and chair of British Apples and Pears.

Ali was chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board from 2016 to 2022 and provided strong representation and leadership for the industry. She is regularly interviewed for national media (broadsheet, radio and TV) and has dealt with politicians at a senior level to harness support for the sector.

Phil Pearson

Phil is Development Director for the largest tomato producing company in the UK, APS Produce. He is involved in product development and sustainability measures including carbon capture, power generation, packaging developments, robotics and vertical farming. Phil has been chair of the Technical Committee of the Tomato Growers Association for the last 25 years.

Julian Marks

Julian Marks

Julian is Managing Director of Barfoots, producing field scale vegetables over 7500 acres in the UK, some protected cropping, and from farming operations around the world.

Julian is a regular spokesperson for the industry and is frequently interviewed on radio and TV.

Anthony Snell

Anthony Snell

AJ & CI Snell is owned and run by company partners Anthony and Christine Snell, growing 1000 tonnes of strawberries plus raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, along with a further 700 tonnes of conventional and Soil Association organic blackcurrants. 

AJ and CI Snell is one of the UK's leading fresh and frozen fruit growers, with a state of the art 2000-tonne capacity packhouse.

Rob James

Rob James

Rob is Technical Director for Thanet Earth, supplying most of the UK’s major multiple retailers.  He has worked at Thanet Earth since the earliest days of the project in 2008 as part of the leadership team on site. He has helped develop a cutting edge, fully functioning greenhouse complex.

Rob is responsible for all aspects of product quality, sustainability, research projects, innovation, varietal development, environment and food safety.

Tim Papworth

Tim is a potato, pea and dwarf beans grower in north-east Norfolk and chair of the East Anglian regional horticulture and potatoes board. Tim also sits on the NFU Potato Forum and has been a past chair.

Tim's policy interests include water, farm assurance, environmental sustainability and farm safety.

Ben Kantsler

Ben Kantsler

Ben is Head Viticulturist at luxury sparkling wine producer, Nyetimber. It has 11 vineyards which span across the counties of West Sussex, Kent and Hampshire.

Ben oversees more than 800 acres of estate owned vineyards with more than 1.5 million vines planted. After working in vineyards across the globe, Ben joined Nyetimber in 2015.

Nick Ottewell

Nick Ottewell

Nick is Director of LJ Betts, producing whole head and baby leaf salads for the catering and retail markets. There is a team of 31 full-time members of staff with 110 seasonal workers during the growing season.

Nick was NFU Kent county chair in 2016 and 2017.

Ross Goatham

Ross is Managing Director of AC Goatham & Son, working across 25 farms and 3000 acres and employing 350 FTE staff and up to 1000 seasonal staff. It is currently the largest supplier of British Top Fruit in the UK handling approximately 25% of all UK apples and 50% of all UK pears.

Mark Eves

Mark is Director at PS & JE Ward Ltd, predominantly cut flower and bulb growers on an arable scale.

He is a member of the management team for the Cut Flower Centre and has been an AHDB horticulture board member and crop panellist.

Louise Wright

The Knapton family have been growing potatoes in northern Lincolnshire for over 70 years. Since returning to the family farm in 2013, after a successful career outside of agriculture, Louise is a key part of the family team, along with her father and sister, in driving the business forward, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the business, including planting, lifting and staffing. Louise also takes on an equal role in marketing all produce grown.

Louise has been an active member of the NFU Potato Forum and East Midlands Horticulture and Potatoes board for six years, contributing to regional and national policy discussion.

In recent years she has completed a Foundation Degree in Agriculture at Riseholme University, taken part in the NFU Farming Ambassadors Training course where chairing and negotiation skills were developed and, within a team, set up the first Institute of Agricultural Management in Lincolnshire, aiming, through events and visits, to maintain and develop skills, training and deliver information to farmers and industry leaders in the local area.

Chris Newenham

Chris is Joint Managing Director, Wilkin & Sons Ltd. He is a graduate of Writtle University College where he studied horticulture, agriculture and business, gaining an MBA in 2004. He subsequently spent 13 years on the board at Writtle completing his time as chair of F&G and vice chair of the board. He is a 2006 Nuffield farming scholar.

Chris has a depth of experience dealing directly with senior level politicians and all forms of media where he has spoken extensively on labour and water related issues. He has been instrumental in developing a successful soft-fruit business at Wilkin & Sons where he has worked for the last 20 years. This sits alongside and compliments their extensive fruit production for processing in their on-site factory. He currently chairs the Awards Council of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers.

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes board member Hannah Trefgarne

Hannah Dockery

Hannah works for Haygrove Ltd as Commercial Manager and Catalyst to the Eccentric Chairman. Haygrove is privately-owned and made up of two integrated halves: the first growing soft fruit for leading supermarkets in the UK, South Africa, Portugal and China; and the second, a branded B2B business which designs, engineers and sells horticultural growing systems in over 50 countries. Founded in 1988 by Angus Davison, Haygrove is a fast-moving entrepreneurial business with more than 1000 permanent and 3000 seasonal staff worldwide.

Hannah is interested in a new approach to business and Haygrove is challenging itself daily on what will define a great business of the future and trying to become one. The business is measured across a triple bottom line of planet, profit and people and has been carbon neutral since 2020.

In her role as Commercial Manager, Hannah is responsible for retail fruit sales to UK supermarkets via Berry Gardens, the UK's leading grower-owned berry cooperative. As Catalyst, she works closely with Angus as strategic partner and creative problem-solver across the international family of Haygrove businesses. This is particularly focused on culture, strategy, brand and sustainability.

Stephen Shields

Stephen is Technical Director for Huntapac Produce ltd, a fourth generation family-owned business based in Southport, supplying the major retailers with root vegetables, salads and brassicas. He has been with the business since 2012, but his career in fresh produce spans over 16 years and a total 32 years in the food industry.

Stephen has also played a key role across a number of customer facing working groups such as Waitrose Agronomy Group, Tesco R&D Committee and chairing the Co-op’s Crop Production Group.

Stephen is also a Red Tractor Fresh Produce Board member.

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