With less than seven weeks to go until the Chartered Institute of Horticulture’s annual conference, it’s time to take a look back at last year. In November 2016 we welcomed over 100 professional horticulturists to join us as we listened to the likes of Philip Pearson from APS Group and Anthony Snell of AJ & CI Snell to name just a few of our speakers.

Well-organised and professional conference! – Anthony Snell, AJ & CI Snell

Delegates were left both inspired and well fed, with an array both fascinating speakers and delicious seasonal and locally sourced produce. Last year we welcomed four new Fellow Members into our professional network and rewarded some outstanding organisations and individuals for their contribution to the horticulture industry.

It was great to attend and I was very honoured to receive the award. Adam Saynor, GroCycle, Winners of the Norah Stucken Award for their innovative and sustainable business model.

Our 2017 conference was a great success but don’t just take our word for it.

I am delighted to be associated with such a well-organised and thought-provoking event. Our profession is rightly very proud of our conference, well done to everyone involved – Phil Pearson APS Group

However that’s not to say we haven’t made some improvements. We’ve taken on board the comments from our attendees and we’re confident this year’s conference will be better than ever, especially as it’s to be held in the beautiful city of Dublin for the very first time.

As the association responsible for representing a wealth of highly-skilled horticultural professionals, we know how important it is to represent every aspect of this fascinating industry.  Therefore, we’ve striven to attract speakers from an even wider range of backgrounds and professions to give talks that appeal to all of our members, and here is the line up.

Up on stage first on the Friday of the conference is Helen King, Helen has a background in economics and consumer marketing and is the Director of Insight and Innovation at Bord Bia, The Irish Food Board. We’re excited to have a speaker who has not only a strong background in business, but also a passion for horticulture. Helen’s talk is titled ‘Future Trends- Planning for a healthy business’, and we can’t wait to hear what advice she has to give.

Representing the educational and research based areas of horticulture we have two highly qualified and esteemed experts, microbiologist Dr Fiona Crispie, and biologist Dr Caroline Elliott Kingston. Fiona is a technologist at Teagasc and the APC Microbiome Institute and will be delivering a talk based around the idea that ‘You are what you eat – The microbiome and health’, which fits in beautifully with this year’s focus on healthy horticulture.

Then we have Caroline who is currently a Lecturer and Assistant Professor in Horticulture and Crop Physiology at University College Dublin. This year Caroline will be focusing on climate change as she gives her presentation on ‘Plants for the future in a changed climate’. This is a topic Caroline has demonstrated a strong passion for through her research into stomatal function in response to the changing climate.

Speaking as a successful family-run businesses owner is Tom Keogh. Tom is Founder and Managing Director of Keogh’s, a snack food manufacturing and marketing company based in Dublin. In 2015 Tom was awarded both Irish Marketer of the Year, and Fingal Business Person of the Year, making him an inspiring businessman as well as a talented grower. We can’t wait to hear him share his knowledge of ‘Growing a sustainable family business’.

Next up we have James Simpson from the commercial growing sector. James is currently Managing Director at Adrian Scripps ltd, one of the UK’s largest fruit growers, and will be presenting a talk on ‘English top fruit’. James comes from a West Country farming family, and is a great example of successful career progression within horticulture. Coming up through the ranks to become part of an impressive operation such as Adrian Scripps, makes him an inspiration to anyone looking to see how they can develop within their careers.

Representing the amenity sector we have Director of Out There Services, Steven Thompson. Out There Services have become a market leader in the UK grounds maintenance and landscaping sector. One of their fantastic values is that they see their role as being ‘one of education and support’ because by empowering communities to become involved, the work they do now will be carried on in the future. With this inspiring message in mind, we eagerly await the opportunity to hear what Steven has to say when he presents his talk ‘A healthy career in horticulture’.

Bringing this year’s conference to a close with the James Bruce Memorial Lecture is Caroline Keeling, CEO of Keelings. Now one of the top 100 fast-moving consumer goods brands in Ireland, Keelings is a 100 per cent Irish-owned family business which started producing fruits and salads on their farm in the 1930’s. Caroline is Chair of Bord Bia’s Horticultural Board and a member of the Export Trade Council, as well as a prominent figure campaigning for jobs implementation in Ireland, supporting women for election, and many more just causes. Caroline is a well-respected figure within the horticultural industry and beyond, so we are very lucky to have her speaking about ‘Growing with passion to meet consumer needs’.

So, all in all, we have a pretty fantastic line up of speakers coming together this year to inspire us all as we spend two days in the beautiful city of Dublin. Our conference is all centred around networking, enjoying the company of colleagues in the industry, and hopefully leaving with new ideas to bring into your own careers and businesses. We hope to see you there!

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