Meet the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board

Field of potatoes

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

Martin Emmett

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board chair

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

He is a director of Tristram Plants, part of the Farplants co-operative which grows and markets over 2000 plant varieties and generates more than £50 million annual sales through retail.

Stephen Shields

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board vice chair

Stephen is Technical Director for Huntapac Produce Ltd.

A fourth generation family-owned business based in Southport, Huntapac supplies 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.

He is also a Red Tractor Fresh Produce Board member.

Tim Rooke

NFU Potato Policy Group chair | NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board vice chair

Tim was elected as chair of the NFU Potato Policy Group in 2022. He is a third generation farmer who grows 600 acres of processing and crisping potatoes in Ryedale, North Yorkshire.

He farms in partnership with his brother and has a mixture of tenanted and owned farms. He also grows wheat, oats, and oilseed rape.

Previously, he has been a member of United Potato Farmers Limited, a director of Alpha Group, and member of the AHDB potatoes marketing group.

Derek Wilkinson

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

Derek was vice chair of the NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board between 2018 and 2024. He is Managing Director of Sandfields Farms Ltd (part of The Shropshire Group).

He is Managing Director of Sandfields Farms Ltd (part of the G’s Group), growing over 1600ha of salads and vegetables for the major retailers, plus a West Africa farm business in Senegal which produces over 400 ha of winter salads for the UK and EU market.

Mark Eves

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

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.

Mollie Higginson

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes board member

Mollie is Sales Manager at New Leaf Plants, the leading specialist in the UK producing Clematis and Climbing plants for garden centres across the UK.

Mollie also runs YPHA (Young People in Horticulture Association) which she founded in 2020 alongside two colleagues. YPHA’s primary focus is to consider how the industry might evolve to appeal to a younger demographic both in terms of future horticultural employees and future garden centre customers.

Rob James

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

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.

Ben Kantsler

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

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.

Julian Marks

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

Julian is Managing Director of Barfoots.

Barfoots produces 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.

Chris Newenham

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

Chris is Joint Managing Director of Wilkin & Sons Ltd.

He is a graduate of Writtle University College where he studied horticulture, agriculture and business, gaining an MBA in 2004. He 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 onsite factory. He currently chairs the Awards Council of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers.

Phil Pearson

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

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.

Louise Wright

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member | NFU Potato Policy Group member

Since returning to the family farm in 2013, after a successful career outside of agriculture, Louise is a key part of the family team.

The Knapton family has been growing potatoes in northern Lincolnshire for over 70 years. Along with her father and sister, Louise is 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 delivering information to farmers and industry leaders in the local area.

Pieter Van Egmond

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

Managing Director of Place UK Ltd. a fruit growing and arable business in East Anglia, Pieter is also a Grower Council member within the cooperative Berry Gardens Growers Ltd.

Tom Christensen

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

Tom is the Commercial Manager at Adrian Scripps Ltd. Which produces Top Fruit, Blackcurrants and Grapes plus a significant area of environmental schemes across 5 sites in Kent.

Gordon Stokes

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board member

Gordon is head of Farming at Southern England Farms Ltd. in Cornwall, growing a large number of vegetables including sweetheart and savoy cabbages, spring greens, cauliflower, broccoli, courgettes and more.

Jamie Lockhart

NFU Horticulture and Potatoes Board co-optee

Jamie is Managing Director for Frederick Hiam Limited, a diverse farming and fresh produce business, with farms in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

The farm covers around 2,500 hectares of land where he uses the latest techniques to produce high-quality market fresh root vegetables, packing potatoes and onions.

The main site at Brandon Fields includes two vegetable packhouses and employs around 80 full-time employees alongside seasonal staff.

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