Connor reports on his progress this year

DCF Report – Connor Deacon

Nottingham Trent University

I must start by thanking the David Colegrave Foundation for the scholarship award I received earlier this year. It has helped in a number of areas; from general student bills, as well as allowing me to participate in a number of events, further my education and broaden my knowledge. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my application, I’m most definitely still a child in a sweet shop when it comes to the next steps after graduating with my BSc Horticulture.
I have utilised the scholarship to attend a broad range of events whilst in university. Travelling to London on a number of occasions; I was selected for an assessment day for Male Undergraduate of the Year, sponsored by L’Oréal, aimed at trying to ensure sustainability within their sector. As well as for HRH the Prince of Wales scholarship hosted by The Worshipful Company of Gardeners which was a brilliant experience and most recently to attend the first UK Association for vertical farming event, creating vertical farms and urban green spaces within London.

 The first UK Association for vertical farming event.

Vertical gardening

(A group having an explanation of a vertical hydroponic system, it was very interesting to see how everybody interacted and the views people brought as each group had a mix of backgrounds; finance, marketing, agriculture, product design etc).

Association for Vertical Farming meeting

Association for Vertical Farming meeting

Connor's Tweet on Vertical Farming

Connor’s Tweet on Vertical Farming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

James Alexander-Sinclair’s garden design evening

James Alexander-Sinclair’s garden design evening

James Alexander-Sinclair’s garden design evening

I also created a group to attend James Alexander-Sinclair’s garden design evening when he held a local event. A very interesting presentation that lead to a number of questions from the NTU cohort and some entertaining after photos. He was lovely, and as with the case of many higher-ups within horticulture, welcomed passing on knowledge and guidance where he could.

Project- Urban Green Space

A lot of the awarded funding went towards my Enactus, a worldwide organisation where students use entrepreneurial action to benefit all of us, project. Creating vertical farms and urban green spaces to benefit the community, partnered with the Nottingham Refugee Forum I funded and lead the creation of a pilot project and we are now expanding into multiple areas.

(Left; the start of the pilot project, using ‘One Tonne Garden’ style and then reinforcing with pallets increasing growing space).

The start of the pilot project, using ‘One Tonne Garden’ style and then reinforcing with pallets increasing growing space.

Project 2

Project 2

Project 3

Project 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished project with plants.

Finished project with plants.

Below; towards the end of the pilot, plants starting to take off, so far we have saved the forum over £100 on food for their Saturday social eating groups)

Towards the end of the pilot, plants starting to take off, so far we have saved the forum over £100 on food for their Saturday social eating groups)

project 5

Tweet showing the final cropped area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left: The next stage, I have just received match funding from Ford C3 Building Sustainable Cities funding. This will be a 6x1x1m raised bed, with 4m tall pergola on top).

The next stage, I have just received match funding from Ford C3 Building Sustainable Cities funding. This will be a 6x1x1m raised bed, with 4m tall pergola on top.

 

With a specific area of interest being protected edible crops and new technology, Cereals was also a brilliant opportunity to network with a number of very interesting companies and individuals, the advancements and research within the Agri-tech and precision agriculture fields are amazing.
I

 

 

 

 

‘Invasive species removal’

(Left: A picture from Hawaii ‘invasive species removal’ aka weeding on a microscopic level. Removing moss from a tray of ferns sent from Estonia for reintroduction. ‘Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world’ due to land being used for other activities such as housing and farming. This has prompted my urban greening and vertical farming interest).

A picture from Hawaii ‘invasive species removal’ aka weeding on a microscopic level. Removing moss from a tray of ferns sent from Estonia for reintroduction. ‘Hawaii is the extinction capital of the world’ due to land being used for other activities such as housing and farming. This has prompted my urban greening and vertical farming interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am currently working on it as part of a start-up business and plan to remove considerable labour costs from harvests within edible and ornamental protected growing.
Receiving the scholarship just after returning from Hawaii and an internship with the National Tropical Botanic Gardens I have no major plans to head abroad, although I wouldn’t say no if someone offered. I am currently seeking summer placements and have an internship at Horticulture Weekly, set up for me through the John Deere Journalism Training Award, which I’m eagerly awaiting. As well as internships with Watermatic, an automated irrigation company utilising recycled water within green walls and urban environments, and Hosta Consulting an urban landscape design studio set up by an NTU horticulture alumni. Although they are all vary varied I am trying experience the widest range the industry has to offer whilst tailoring myself towards the future.For the future I plan to utilise everything I am learning to create my own business early next year. The obvious global problems surrounding food security and the increasing pressures being added by climate change and population growth as well as the current EU situation are of great interest to me and I plan to start by using technology to create sustainable food sources for disadvantaged communities within Nottingham.

Thanks

I must again thank the David Colegrave Foundation, The Peter Seabrook Bursary and The British Protected Ornamentals Association for this scholarship. Without the help of organisations and individuals such as these I would not have been able to participate in such a range of activities this year. It is with great thanks that I write this report and hope they continue to be able to support worthy causes to achieve great things.

My sincerest gratitude,
Connor Deacon

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/connorjdeacon                             https://connorjdeacon.wordpress.com/