Inspiring the Next Generation of Leaders

 

The NextGen Fruit Group is a charitable foundation that is committed to driving young people into the fruit industry. The group meets between 3 and 4 times a year at a variety of events that it organises for the members. The group has four key ambitions:

  • Educating its members through a variety of events, visits and seminars

  • Bringing young people together - creating a powerful and meaningful networking group

  • Encouraging the next generation of Industry leaders

  • Through charitable giving, it provides young people with the opportunities to join the fruit industry.

The industry has a responsibility to support its young people in a positive way, to show them there is a real career opportunity in the fruit industry and that the rewards for ambitious, quality and hardworking well connected people are very real.


 

History

A brief history of Next Gen Fruit Group

In 1967 – Professor John Hudson was looking into the needs of the fruit industry over the next 25 years. He recognised the benefactors would be the under 40’s and that they needed a voice in the industry’s future. From this idea a dialogue with younger growers came into fruition, and so began the under forties fruit growers conferences, these started as academic conferences in the UK and have expanded to study tours all around Europe.

On average around 40 growers every 2 years travel to a fruit growing region in Europe, here they encounter techniques, innovations, growing systems and quality standards which can spark ideas to drive their own businesses forward.

This equates to around 800 attendees during the life of the Under 40s and we want this to continue and grow to inspire the next generation of fruit growers in our country; industry times are getting tougher therefore forging relationships, working together and sharing innovation is vital to survival.

Professor Hudson was an extraordinary man; not only an expert in horticulture but a war hero, he was awarded a military MBE in 1943. In the following year he received the George Medal and then, in 1945, a Bar for his personal work on defusing bombs, including the first unexploded V1 (Flying Bomb, or ‘doodlebug’).  After the war and a time at the department of agriculture in New Zealand John Hudson returned to become a Professor and Head of the Department of Horticulture, University of Nottingham, after which he became Director of Long Ashton Research Station with a Chair of Horticultural Science at the University of Bristol.  He was this brilliant man who sowed the seed for The U40’s Conference, now in its 23rd biennial year. He passed away in 2007 at the Grand Age of 97.

Inspired by Professor Hudson the U40s founders were: Malcolm Withnall, Peter Vinson, Nigel Harland and Andrew Jackson.

Malcolm Withnall
A lifetime in the fruit industry; experienced in growing, as an educator lecturing at Hadlow College, and as a distinguished writer for fruit industry publications. Malcolm has been inspirational in his support for the UK fruit industry.

Peter Vinson
Peter is one of the most respected fruit growers in the South East of England; with a family history of over 150 years growing fruit. In the last 25 years Peter has established the family business (Edward Vinson) as a breeder and producer of Strawberry plants, and as one of the largest suppliers of quality soft fruit to UK Supermarkets,

Nigel Harland
Nigel farms at Saltwood in Kent and has been producing high quality apples for many years. One of the original suppliers of M&S Tree Ripe Cox Apples.

Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson is one of the leading fruit growers in the West Midlands; the family business; ‘Man of Ross’ situated just a few miles from Ross on Wye between the villages of Glewstone and Peterstow on the edge of the Wye valley. MoR is a 650 acre fruit and arable farm, which has been producing top quality apples, pears, plums, strawberries for many years.

And so thanks to these four the Under 40’s was established

The principle aims were simple;

  • A forum for new ideas and debate

  • An insight into the fruit industry in UK, Europe and maybe one day…further afield

  • To forge connections and friendships

  • Gain a greater understanding of the larger industry issues that face everyone