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Knowing to grow

Increasing the resilience of plant-centred food production skills.

Knowledge and skills are essential for growing and producing food. Ensuring their future availability is therefore vital for resilient agri-food systems.

This project considers how to meet knowledge requirements for future food supply chains, focusing on the case of horticultural production. It will draw on international experiences and stakeholder expertise to inform strategies to enhance food security in Wales and beyond.

A focus on horticultural production - large-scale growing of fruits and vegetables - will reveal how knowledge flows through agri-food systems. This will characterise risks of shortages or losses of essential skills which threaten long-term resilience, in the context of global food security. International comparison will inform analysis of the Welsh context to reveal success factors required for a step-change in skills provision.

The research aims to enhance the resilience of knowledge and skills dimensions of agri-food systems by informing policy, theory and practice. It will contribute characterisation of skills employed in contemporary food production. Beyond the specifics of agri-food this addresses how industrialised work is typically understood as low skilled. Through a networked perspective on skill it will consider how materials including plants affect knowledge flows.

The project commences in October 2018 for three years. It is part-funded by Cardiff University and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Horticulture in the UK - Characterising Knowledge Ecosystems

Research Report 2022

Horticulture in the UK - Resilience to and beyond pandemic

Research Report 2022

What will enhance resilience?

Research summary

Bilingual research findings summary

Research report

What skills challenges do growers face?

Research summary

Exploring opportunities for farmers in Wales to produce foods for future markets - Executive Summary

Exploring opportunities for farmers in Wales to produce foods for future markets

Keeping and improving seasonal workers

A case study on EC Drummond, a family farm in Herefordshire.

Developing the next generation of experts

A case study looking at G’s Fresh, one of Europe’s largest fresh produce companies.

Building and owning as a team

A case study looking at Riverford Organic Farmers' efforts to make workers feel part of the business.

Working Paper 1 The state of horticulture in the UK

This briefing focuses on those growing fruit and vegetables – the edible or production sector. It summarises the most recent available data on the state of the sector, presenting a picture of its economic, social and environmental contributions.

Knowing to Grow: Increasing the resilience of plant-centred food production skills

Report of Workshop One - 4 June 2019.

The state of skills for UK horticulture

This briefing focuses on the horticultural workforce, summarising the best available data on work and skills in the sector, including reported shortages.

What is the problem with horticultural skills in the UK?

The nature of the challenge.

What will solve the problem with horticultural skills in the UK?

Strategies for addressing the challenge.

Project team

The project is led by Dr Hannah Pitt, Sêr Cymru II Research Fellow at the Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University. The project mentors are Prof. Terry Marsden and Prof. Gillian Bristow.

Dr Hannah Pitt

Dr Hannah Pitt

Lecturer in Environmental Geography

(0) 29 2087 9632
Professor Terry Marsden

Professor Terry Marsden

Emeritus Professor

+44 (0)29 2087 5736
Professor Gillian Bristow

Professor Gillian Bristow

Head of the School of Geography and Planning

+44 (0)29 2087 5388

Contact us

Interested businesses, researchers and other stakeholders are invited to contact Dr Hannah Pitt for more information.