Welcome to our blog, where we hope to give you more detailed information about the trees we produce and our wider services, helping you develop a successful planting scheme and connect you with ‘the grower’; whilst giving you an inside look at how we operate and what inspires us. We're excited to share this with you and would love to hear your ideas for topics we can expand on here.
Since we started in 2021, we have often been asked ‘Why The Grower?’ so we thought we'd start with how we came to set up The Grower, and our backgrounds, as well as some plans for the future.
The Grower is Chris King and Inez Williams-King, we met whilst studying at the University of Essex where Chris received a first in Horticulture (BSc Hons), and Inez received a first in Garden Design, Restoration and Management (BSc Hons). We took different routes into the industry from there. Many of Chris’s contemporaries post-university followed routes into botany, or landscape maintenance, but he realised that there was a skills gap around commercial horticulture and forestry. After a management traineeship with a major nursery grower brand, he fell in love with bareroot growing and jokes that he was never going to be comfortable working in a polytunnel as he's too tall. Give him a tractor any day!
Inez studied for an MA in Cultural Heritage Management, has extensive knowledge and training around landscape planning and management, and is an associate member of the Landscape Institute and a Green Flag Award Judge, which dovetails nicely with Chris. He grows the trees, and she can work with customers to ensure that the right trees are planted in the right place and are correctly planted and cared for. We wanted to use our unique knowledge to connect our customers with the people growing their trees. Who better to help you to create a successful scheme that the people who grew them.
Together we had been watching the forestry nursery sector handle the challenges of Brexit, and increased tree-planting initiatives due to government environmental policy, and for a long time had said “we could and should do this”. But without any kind of plan for how that might happen.
Then in 2020, while we were living in Gloucester, Inez’s family made the tough decision to sell the family herd, on their farm in St Agnes, on the north Cornwall coast. Following an uncertain future, they planned to switch to arable. Inez’s father and uncle were the fourth generation of her family to farm there, and it was truly heartbreaking to let the cows go, but impossible to continue at that time. Whilst the farm changed management practices to largely arable, we floated the idea of growing bare-root trees there, for hedging and forestry, and moved to Cornwall to work with that side of the family business.
The farm was organic for over 20 years, and this practice has allowed the land to slowly recover, allowing us to build up the benefits of ecosystem services through the practice of sustainable and regenerative agriculture. We're continuing such things as crop rotation, and leaving wide field margins, to help cement us as one of the most sustainable commercial tree growers in the UK. We have grown over 2 million trees since 2021.
With growing concern around the environment, sustainable forestry and increasing enthusiasm for agroforestry and nature recovery we are grasping this opportunity to make a positive change in the industry and the environment around us.
Coming soon – blogs about our environmental credentials and how we're sharing them with others, how to make a tree-planting scheme in your local area a success, and using AI to fight weeds, yes really!