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The English Apple Man


27th Oct 2023 - Growing Kent and Medway

Growing Kent and Medway


Growing Kent & Medway has awarded a share of over £1.6million to 13 businesses to fund projects that will sustainably transform the horticultural and plant-based food and drink supply chain.


Kent and Medway is home to some of the most exciting and innovative food and drink businesses in the UK and internationally. From growers of fresh fruit and vegetables, to food processes and makers, through to engineers and robotics specialists automating our supply chain.


Kent businesses are leading the way in healthy and sustainable food production.


Growing Kent & Medway is led by NIAB EMR in East Malling.




Dr Nikki Harrison Growing Kent & Medway programme director, who joined the team from the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), where she was head of business development.


With a scientific career spanning more than 20 years, she is trained in plant biology and genetics; microbiology and biotechnology, and horticultural cropping systems. Prior to joining AHDB, Dr Harrison was senior research leader in horticultural science at NIAB EMR, and was an honorary research fellow at the University of Reading.



Funded through two separate grants, the projects were selected based on their innovative ideas to tackle some of the big sustainability challenges facing the food and drink industry. From next-generation technology to recycle waste water, to cutting-edge techniques to breed new varieties of fruit, the varied projects will help to reduce the impact of our food production systems on the environment


The funders were particularly interested in projects that focused on creating circular economies and finding new uses for waste products.


Business Sustainability Challenge


The 'Business Sustainability Challenge' grant offered up to £50,000 to address key sustainability issues and opportunities. Eight winners will share over £287,000 in funding for their short-term, high-impact innovative projects.


Successful applicants include Tensei Ltd who will be investing their £50,000 grant to test different agri-waste materials as polymer fillers, to reduce the amount of virgin or recycled plastic used in packaging. As well as reducing the carbon emissions generated by creating plastics, the technique could create new revenue streams for farmers and growers from their waste products.


Canterbury Brewers & Distillers are receiving over £13,000 to develop a new system that will produce speciality mushrooms, using the waste grain, water, CO2, and energy from their new whiskey production facility.


Below: Dr Nikki Harrison


Dr Nikki Harrison, Programme Director for Growing Kent & Medway, said: "We are investing in real-world business innovation and research projects that demonstrate how science-led, sustainable innovation can be deployed throughout the supply chain. This not only benefits the environment by helping Kent businesses become more sustainable but also stimulates economic growth. Fresh thinking can help create new revenue streams and new markets from waste by-products and processes.


"While these projects demonstrate the exciting innovation happening in Kent and Medway, we expect the knowledge that is gained to help transform our food systems throughout the sector."


Nim's Fruit Ltd has been awarded over £22,000 to repurpose their fruit and vegetable powders. Founder of Nim's Fruit Ltd, Nimisha Raja MBE, said: "Sustainability is a core principle guiding our actions, and at Nim's, we are proud to have achieved a zero-food waste status within our business. For some time, we've aspired to utilize our by-products to create new products to help consumers reduce food waste at home, but unfortunately, limited financial resources have held us back.


"When we heard about the Business Sustainability Challenge, we jumped at the chance in the hope that, with even partial funding, we could finally put to use the substantial quantity of by-products we've been storing. We are thrilled to be awarded a grant and to embark on this project, which will enable us to establish a fresh revenue stream rooted in 100% sustainable products."


Collaborative Research and Development Grants


The second of our grant offers awarded £1.4 million to five businesses for large-scale Collaborative Research and development projects. All the projects will be collaborative with one of the cutting-edge research organisations based in Kent and Medway.


Read: Full list of Business Sustainability Challenge winning projects.


"We will be announcing two new grant funds for the horticultural and plant-based food and drink sector in November 2023. Applications will be open to businesses registered throughout the UK. Sign up to become a member for further details."



Below: left. Apple seed breeding and right. Raspberry Aphid





Next week is the 90th anniversary of The National Fruit Show




Below: National Fruit Show 2022 opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex (now HRH The Duchess of Edinburgh) and right. NFU President Minette Batters will open the 2023 '90th Anniversary Show'




Below: To finish this week's Journal, a feature created by Paula Fleming Orchard Manager at Raymond Blanc's - Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons


20 of 30 pears growing in the orchard at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons





That is all for this week


Take care


The English Apple Man