Sparsholt College Group hosts educational lecture on the Future of Farming in memory of community champion, Jenny Gray


On Tuesday 24 January, Sparsholt College Group hosted an exciting educational lecture on the Future of Farming, organised in partnership with the Denmead & District Growmore Club. The testimonial was in memory of community champion, Jenny Gray, and her contribution to the farming sector. 

Four industry professionals were invited to give presentations at the event where they discussed the future of farming in the UK. They each shared their vision for farming development in a sustainable and increasingly diverse environment to over 100 attendees including University Centre Sparsholt students and local community members along with friends and family of Jenny. 

Jenny Gray was born and spent her childhood on a large farm on top of Portsdown hill where she and her husband Howard set up their own farming business. Jenny committed herself to many great causes including being a founder member of both the Growmore Club and the Farm Future Forum. She strongly believed in the spirit of community and provided a long-lasting contribution to the farming sector, the testimonial in her memory reflected these values.  

The speakers on the night included: 

James Hewetson-Brown, the Managing Director of Wildflower Turf Limited, who supply Wildflower knowledge, training and products for landscaping and biodiversity projects. Trained in agriculture, his interest in biodiversity led to the development of Wildflower Turf in 2003; the first of its kind. James has conducted a significant amount of research into the establishment of wildflower landscapes in the built environment. His pioneering work has resulted in a product that is guaranteed to produce a wildflower landscape. 

Sam Watson Jones, the Co-Founder of Small Robot Company and fourth generation arable farmer with a clear vision for making farming better. Sam was previously a management consultant at Accenture and took over the family farm seven years ago. His focus is on using technology to grow productivity and efficiency as margins continue to shrink. Sam is an experienced business operator, having run a diversified family business for the last five years. He has a range of previous experience including as an angel investor in EdTech start-ups.  

David Evans, the Managing Director of Trinity Grain Limited, a farmer owned grain storage co-operative comprising of three grain stores in the South of England. Trinity provides a professional processing, storage, and marketing service, handling more than 200,000 tonnes of combinable crops for over 300 growers annually. The grain stores are in Hampshire, Wiltshire, and West Berkshire, serving farmers across these counties and Dorset, Oxfordshire, and Gloucestershire.   

Josie Palmer, the Rural Estate Manager for Hampshire County Council and head of service for Hampshire County Farms, which aims to provide inclusive farm opportunities for new entrants into the agricultural industry, supporting them to grow sustainable farming enterprises before progressing on to larger opportunities with others.  Josie is a chartered surveyor and agricultural valuer with a comprehensive background in rural estate management, having had the privilege of acting for several private, institutional and charity sector clients whilst in consultancy. 

Robert Medway, Managing Director at Godshill Orchards, described Jenny as “a leading member of the Denmead & District Growmore Club who lived a life of service to the community and to the farming industry. She was a carer, an encourager, an example of creativity, and someone who inspired.” 

“We felt that we wanted to hold a special event in her memory, something appropriate to her life values. We found a willing partner in this exercise in University Centre Sparsholt along with some exceptional speakers and together we put on a truly inspiring evening for the Farmers of the Growmore Community, the Hampshire Young Farmers, along with the staff and students at University Centre Sparsholt. “ 

Neil Rippington, Assistant Principal for Higher Education, was delighted with the outcome of the evening, saying “The evening was a great success, and the four speakers brought some essential insight from different perspectives, it was fascinating to hear about the innovation in the industry.”  

“The University Centre Sparsholt students in attendance were enthused and interested in the presentations and we hope this is the first of many events like this that will continue to create opportunities for partnerships and engagements”. 

Find out more about Sparsholt College Group, including part-time courses for adult learners on the Sparsholt website: