Growers from NextGen Fruit headed to California to learn how local farmers are grappling with labour costs and climate change

NextGen Fruit members were hosted by 14 different businesses on their US road trip

NextGen Fruit growers were hosted by 14 different businesses on their US road trip

UK growers from NextGen Fruit visited California to see how they are dealing with the challenges associated with a strong reliance on migrant labour, climate change and extreme weather conditions.

At present, California produces over a third of the United States’ vegetables and nearly three-quarters of the country’s fruit and nuts.

During the seven-day conference, NextGen Fruit members were hosted by 14 different businesses on a road trip that covered 900 miles between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Crops and production visits ranged from Driscoll’s 500-hectare organic strawberry production to a small-scale peach and plum grower.

The visit also included an opportunity to witness some of the latest developments in agri-tech and automated farming, alongside vertically farmed lettuce, and the regenerative vineyards of a family winery.

Managing director for Clock House Farm and outgoing chairman, Oli Pascall said: “The NextGen fruit group represents the best of UK horticulture, and the future of fruit farming.

“The aim of this trip was to gain valuable insight into the excellent farming protocols intrinsic to California’s successful crop production track record, and to see what practices can be replicated to benefit and enhance fruit farming in the UK.”

Head of operations at Hall Hunter and incoming chair for NextGen, Alana Deacon commented: “I’m really excited to take on the mantle of leadership from the current committee, whose sterling work and superb organisation over the last two years has resulted in the delivery of a range of very successful events.

“The NextGen fruit group has always served as a source of inspiration to me, providing access to a valuable network of like-minded individuals within the industry.

“I am looking forward to working with a team of young growers as dedicated to the cause as that led by Oli Pascall and his committee, building on the achievements of the past two years.”