Thursday 8 February, 12.00-13.00 GMT
Food system transformation models often rest on us all eating more fruit and veg and less meat and dairy. But even if consumers were persuaded to choose a more plant-based diet, our supply of fresh produce is on a knife edge: Mounting pressures from Brexit to supermarkets, and labour to energy costs, mean many UK growers have left glasshouses, fields, or orchards unplanted or unsown for two years now. In addition, we rely heavily on imports (around 80% for fruit, 45% for veg) from countries that are projected to suffer large-scale drying and other climate-related shocks and stresses. Add to that an ever more fractured world with traditional trade routes disrupted, and there is a big case for increasing our own domestic production. But how? What are the challenges? How can research and academia contribute?
In this two-part webinar, we have two great speakers with significant first hand experience of working in fresh produce, and who are both sought-after voices to talk about these topics in the media and to government.
Part 1: Vegetable and Salad Crops (8 February, 12 midday-1pm)
Lee Stiles is the secretary of Lea Valley Growers Association, a group of growers who produce 75% of Britain’s cucumbers, sweet peppers & aubergines (around 500 million!), plus tomatoes, lettuces and herbs in 450 acres of glasshouses.
Part 2: Fruit crops (23 February, 10-11am)
Please note both webinars will be recorded.
Lee Stiles is the secretary of Lea Valley Growers Association Ltd - a group of 80 growers who have collectively been called ‘Britain's cucumber, aubergine and pepper capital’. Together they produce 75% of Britain’s cucumbers, sweet peppers and aubergines (around 500 million!), plus tomatoes, lettuces and herbs in 450 acres of glasshouses. Lee is regularly featured in the media as an authoritative voice of the horticulture sector, and has appeared on the BBC, Jeremy Vine Show, Sky News, The Times, Guardian, as well as trade press such as The Grocer and Horticulture Week. He also regularly submits evidence to the UK government’s Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the Horticulture Sector Committee. Lee Valley Growers Association is a specialist protected Horticulture branch of the National Farmers Union. Follow Lee Valley Growers on Twitter and Lee on LinkedIn.
About the webinar series:
The webinar is chaired by Jez Fredenburgh, Knowledge Exchange Fellow for the AFN Network+, and agri-food journalist. Jez is based at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.
This webinar is part of a series run by AFN Network+ which explores net zero in the UK agri-food system with leading movers and shakers. Expect deep and varied insight from across the sector, including farmers, scientists, policy analysts, community leaders, retailers, politicians, businesses and health professionals.
The series is put together by Prof Neil Ward, co-lead of AFN Network+, and Jez Fredenburgh the network's knowledge exchange fellow and an agri-food journalist. Both Neil and Jez are based at the Tyndall Centre at UEA. Follow Jez on Twitter/X and follow Neil on Twitter/X.
Watch past webinars here and listen to our podcast here. You can also follow AFN Network+ on Twitter/X and LinkedIn.
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UK Research has funded this Network+ with the support of these 4 councils:
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)