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‘The Bigger Picture’: Horticulture and Landscape Conference Welcomes Industry Expert Speakers

Hadlow College welcomed a series of industry experts to speak at its annual Horticulture and Landscape Conference on the 2nd March, entitled ‘The Bigger Picture’, which covered a broad range of topics, touching upon such pertinent issues as the role of cutting-edge technology in commercial horticulture and post-Brexit food security. The Conference, held in the college’s Garden Design studio, was attended by current Higher Education students studying Honours Degree, Foundation Degrees and Higher national Diplomas in Garden Design, Commercial Horticulture, Animal Biodiversity and Conservation, International Agriculture and Countryside and Landscape Management programmes. 

Renowned Landscape Designer, RHS Ambassador and BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost gave an excellent keynote talk – which was equal parts inspiring, informative, funny and surprisingly moving - about how he first became interested in nature and the landscape, growing up with a landscaping father in both North London and rural Devon. In his easy-going style, he detailed his formative years working for the late, great Geoff Hamilton at Barnsdale Gardens in Rutland and his numerous Chelsea Flower Show successes.

Dr. Howard Lee, Professor of Sustainable Agriculture at Hadlow College, gave a very timely talk about urban agriculture, focusing on food security and uncertainty planning, which took in a sobering yet fascinating history of famine and the potential to look at the success of urban agriculture in Cuba as a model for self-sufficiency. 

Hadlow alumnus Sarah Titmuss, now Trials Officer on the Total World Fresh research team, spoke about the trials she had been conducting at the Berry Research and Development Site in Langley, which utilise the combined technologies of a Cravo retractable rafter house and supplementary LED lighting to investigate the possibility of extending the harvest period of locally grown British June-bearing strawberries.

Conference organiser and Lecturer in Garden Design, Jamie Shakeshaft, took to the podium next to speak give an update on green projects happening across campuses. In particular, he highlighted the recent success of Hadlow College in achieving Bronze awards for the Greenwich Green Workbook that recognizes the sustainable activities of educational establishments. This was followed by a talk from Richard Morsley, Director of Betteshanger Sustainable Parks, the Hadlow Group’s major economic and social regeneration project near Deal. Richard gave an update on the project, his role in embedding sustainable best practice into the build and the landscape management involved.

Andrea Griffiths, Senior Partnership Officer, Medway Valley Countryside Partnership relayed her extensive experience of controlling invasive plants on a large scale. Andrea presented many case studies that she had been and is involved in as part of her role and explained the long term importance, impact and benefits of the work.

The final speech was given by Conservation, Sustainability and Landscape Consultant, Andy Jackson, who spoke about landscape permeability, and how models from Derbyshire to as far afield as Nagoya, Japan, can inform ideas around land use, biodiversity and conservation as well as the amenity benefits to people.

The day ended with several workshops, which saw the students engaged in discussions and debates around ‘remote sensing & personal privacy’, ‘proposing native species’, a session on the role of professionals within landscape design and its allied disciplines, led by Andrea Griffiths, and ‘Graduates Attributes’ run by the group’s HE student Mentor, Kirsten Gower.

Summarising the event, Jamie Shakeshaft said: “Overall, we received very positive feedback from the students who attended the conference, which offered them the perfect opportunity to network with industry people as well as peers from other faculties and disciplines. The event was a great success - enriching the curriculum and exposing as many different cohorts as possible to top industry speakers. I’d like to thank all the staff, guests and students involved for making it such a successful event.”


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