Date: 25 October 2019
Delegates attending the 2019 Tomato Conference will not need reminding what a fantastic event it was. Once again a superb collection of speakers providing an informative and educational conference which delegates assessed as the best TGA Conference to date. Maintaining the format change that was introduced in 2018 proved once again very successful and an event structure we intend to further develop.
The opening session was expertly chaired by Paul Faulkner (Commercial Director from Eric Wall Ltd and TGA Treasurer) the mornings speaker session focused on the more strategic and business subjects with excellent presentations from our conference sponsor, Bioline’s Caroline Read, followed by the CEO of LEAF Dr Caroline Drummond who disseminated her infectious enthusiasm discussing nascent ‘circular economy’ work and encouraging all present to get involved in this nascent and sustainable approach to improving their businesses.
Our presentation from Kantar this year was from Joseph Shaw-Roberts, an enlightening and enjoyable illustration of current situations and future trends with respect to the tomato market. This was a very informative, topical and well-received section of the conference.
The core education section has become an increasingly important part of the conference in recent years. This year we heard from APS Produce apprentices and who shared a short film, prepared and directed by that group, illustrating the benefits of the apprentice system for these individuals and encouraging other companies to also get involved.
Likewise, a 5 minute film by Chris Baldwin, Chairman of the Tomato Working Party, gave a brief overview of his work with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics strategy) inspiring young people to get involved in the science and practice of food production and more specifically tomatoes.
Inspired by the topics covered in the education section, we sincerely hope that members see the opportunities for their businesses and the wider protected crops sector using such approaches to help mitigate our industries succession issues. We believe that the more young people (and their educators) understand the industry the more they will be attracted to this as a future career.
The extended lunchtime provided welcome opportunity for all to visit the excellent array of trade stands and meet up with colleagues. Trade stands are a fundamental part of the conference and we are extremely grateful to all our participants who provide an excellent and hopefully profitable backdrop to the auditorium sessions. Indeed visiting the trade stand and catching up with industry colleagues is as much a part of the reason for attending as the main conference sessions themselves.
Following lunch, NFU Energy’s Tim Pratt helped us understand some of the imminent changes occurring in the world of energy and resources. An excellent speaker Tim delivers such a natural and authoritative information session and is always highly rated in our conference feedback.
A significant change at the 2019 event involved devoting most of the afternoon session to one subject, that being Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit virus (ToBRFV), discussing the latest research on the virus and directing growers to relevant resources supplied through the work of the ToBRFV Working group which the TGA leads through co- chairmanship of Phil Morley and AHDB’s Nikki Harrison. In this session we had world class speakers including Dr Aviv Dombrovsky from the Volcani Institute in Israel. Dr Dombrovsky is the world’s pre-eminent researcher on this topic and will continue to help with aspects of the TGA bulletin No1 October 2019 work of the ToBRFV working group over the coming months and years.
The ToBRFV session was expertly chaired by Phil Pearson (TGA technical committee chairman) using the online software ‘Slido’ to encourage audience participants to ask questions. This proved an excellent way of allowing everyone to get their questions presented and answered. I am sure we will use this successful format to inform future such conferences.
The TGA Board and members would like to take this opportunity to thank all the speakers, sponsors, trade stands, members and delegates for attending the event and making it such a success.
Also, a huge thank you to our After-dinner speaker Barbara Bray MBE, whose passion for educating people about food and nutrition shone from her inspirational presentation.
The event was also attended by a representative from Perennial Gardener’s Royal Benevolent Society providing an overview of the only charity specifically for people in horticulture and their families – and we were delighted to raise over £400 for the charity.
Presentations from the event and more information regarding our regularly updated ToBRFV portal are now available online. Links to the main conference sessions and additional ToBRFV are presented below. Additionally, a video of the conference day will shortly be available. We will keep you updated as to when and how that can be viewed.
Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus
Scroll half way down the page and see the hyperlinks to individual presentations (opens in a new window)
Symptoms of tomato brown rugose fruit virus - gallery
Clicking on the images provides the description (opens in a new window)
A recent ahdb podcast on the subject of ToBRFV (opens in a new window)
Any questions? Please ask Dr Phil Morley by contacting him at: firstname.lastname@example.org