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SCI Horticulture Group - Report of activities 2014 - 2015

Tomatoes

12 Oct 2015

In keeping with SCI’s role of being ‘Where Science meets Business’, the aim of the SCI Horticulture Group (SCI HG) is to bring together horticultural science and production horticulture, through meetings, newsletters, social media, personal contacts and other means.

To this end, the committee and its associates pursue a programme of visits to sites and businesses, to help members and guests gain an insight into the challenges faced by horticulturists in the present economy.

In addition the Group maintains an active web presence, promoting its own events and news items of wider interest to horticultural plant scientists. This is achieved through a monthly newsletter on the SCI website and active group pages on Twitter (2,500 followers) and Facebook (187 members).

Through distinguished members of the committee, the SCI HG has representatives on such bodies as the Horticultural Innovation Partnership (HIP - formerly the National Horticultural Forum - NHF); the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS); the Royal Society of Biology (RSB); and the UK Plant Science Federation (UKPSF).

The David Miller Award, set up in memory of David Miller MBE, an inspirational horticulturist, honoured its first winners in 2012. The award is part funded from an SCI grant; and we are grateful to Vitacress, and support from the Eden Project, for their continued sponsorship. 2014 winner Sebastian Eves van den Akker, was awarded a BBSRC Anniversary Future Leader Fellowship. These BBSRC awards, worth up to £300K, are to support the transition of early stage researchers to fully independent research leaders.

The criteria for entry include a focus on horticulture, and skills in communication. It has become customary for the winner to make a presentation at our AGM. We enjoyed hearing from the 2015 winners at our AGM on 18 September, with an update from one of the 2014 winners.

Congratulations are also due to Group member Peter Seabrook MBE VMH, who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Grower of the Year Awards.

The Group is an organisational member of the Royal Society of Biology (RSB). It contributes chiefly through the special interest group, The UK Plant Science Federation (UKPSF).

The SCI HG enjoyed a number of visits in the reporting year. For many of these we are indebted to the Professional Horticulture Group South West (PHGSW) for sharing their programme:

Oct 2014 - Top fruit production and harvesting at Charlton Orchards and the arboretum at Little Yarford farm

Nov 2014 - PHGSW lunch and inaugural Oliver Menhinick lecture

Feb 2015 - PHGSW Annual Conference ‘Exotic Plants, Benefits and Penalties’ including a keynote talk on animal plant interactions in Amazonian plants by Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew

Mar 2015 - A three day visit to the Exmoor area, to study horticulture and land management

Apr 2015 - Distillation of Bombay Sapphire Gin and the herbs and spices used to give it its flavour and Hardys Cottage Garden Plants

May 2015 - Belcombe Court, Bradford on Avon, Somerset

Jun 2015 - Horticulture and Life Sciences at Bristol University

Jul 2015 - Dicot and Frogmary Green Farm to study biomass boilers and their large scale biodigestor supplying the national gas grid.

Jul 2015 - Horticulture and Life Sciences at Christ Church University, Canterbury and soft fruit propagation at Edward Vinson Plants

The Horticulture Group is part of the first SCI ‘hub’, the Agri-food Hub. Its aim is to combine the expertise of several related Groups to organise meetings.

Peter Grimbly
Chair of the Horticulture Group (Stepped down in September 2015)

Margaret Waddy
Secretary of the Horticulture Group

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